Archive for March 2010
A suspect was arrested this week in a rape that's been unsolved for more than 10 years.
Robert C. Graham Jr., 30, appeared in Superior Court today via video from the jail, where he's been since his arrest on Tuesday.
He's accused of raping a woman on Sept. 6, 1999, as she walked to work on Market Street near Green Street about 4:10 a.m. The woman described her attacker as a young man she'd never seen before with “straight brown hair and pointy nose,” according to court documents.
Last fall, the Washington State Crime Lab matched DNA evidence from the crime with Graham's DNA, which had only recently been obtained, said Spokane police Detective Harlen Harden.
Harden, the detective first assigned to the case in 1999, described the victim as “relieved” by the suspect's arrest.
“It's been pretty hard on her,” Harden said.
Graham, a level 1 sex offender, was convicted of third-degree rape involving a 15-year-old victim in 2000.
He’s lived in the
Graham's bond was set today at $25,000 for one count of second-degree rape.
Home-invasion robbers awakened two north Spokane apartment residents this morning by beating them a crowbar before stealing electronics.
The suspects, 20-year-old Donald M. Holley, 30-year-old Oshien R. Pendell and 19-year-old Megan N. Wilson, were arrested after deputies spotted them in a 1996 Isuzu Rodeo at the crime scene.
Pendell ran away as Holley and Wilson were arrested, according to the Sopkane County Sheriff’s Office, but Spokane police dog Maximus captured him.
The three are accused of entering an apartment on West Bellwood Drive early this morning, where a 22-year-old and 19-year-old woman were beaten with a metal crowbar before their hands were tied with zip ties, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
The man broke free and called 911.
Deputies found a TV, headphone and stereo components stolen from the apartment inside the Isuzu.
Pendell, Wilson and Holley faces charges of first-degree armed robbery, second-degree assault and first-degree theft. Detectives are looking for additional suspects.
A drug investigation uncovered child pornography at a Spokane Valley apartment this week.
Jacque C. Bos, 49, is accused of selling meth to undercover detectives before they raided his apartment at 2400 N. Wilbur Road on Tuesday.
Along with meth, detectives seized computers and other devices they suspect contain child pornography, according to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.
This morning, detectives arrested a man suspected of selling meth to Bos, Elmer B. Hoiseth, 57, at a mobile home at 7700 W. Westbow, according to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.
Investigators believe Bos also bought meth from 45-year-old Phuoc H. Nguyen, who was arrested March 17 after detectievs found meth and the remnant of a lab at his home in the 400 block of East Vicksburg.
On Wednesday, Bos appeared in Superior Court on one charge of delivery of child pornography, and Hoiseth was booked into jail on one charge of delivery of meth. Nguyen was released from jail shortly after his arrest.
By Thomas Clouse
One Spokane lawyer has been disbarred and another suspended from practicing law for three years by the Washington State Supreme Court for separate transgressions regarding their clients’ finances.
Robert E. Beach III has been suspended for failing to comply with the rules of professional conduct regarding his handling of client accounts, according to court records.
Also last week, David Hellenthal was disbarred after he refused to return clients’ money after they learned Hellenthal had been suspended for other previous financial transgressions.
According to court records, Hellenthal helped two women in 2007 obtain control of their ailing husbands’ property or finances without consulting the husbands.
In one case, Hellenthal set himself up to receive a client’s $170,000 inheritance if the client died.
Read an article on Hellenthal from 2007 that details the misconduct:
The text messages to the Spokane County Sheriff’s deputy came after a raid at a suspected marijuana grow house.
“(W)ee can either b friends or enemies,” the cryptic message began, urging police to drop their probe and alluding to dire consequences that could befall the detective’s family members if it continues: “don’t do this 2 ur kid…I’ve got a surprise for you…tic tock tic tock you aint even going to know when it’s coming.”
Those and hundreds of other sexually explicit, profanity-laced messages filled Detective Jeff Shover’s cell phone in the weeks after he gave his number to a suspect who was vacationing in Hawaii when the grow operation was raided, and claimed she was in danger.
That suspect, 41-year-old Tina Blanchette, has been charged with intimidating a public servant and making harassing phone calls in a case that began as an otherwise routine marijuana probe but has now taken an unusual twist.
Police say the hundreds of text messages, phone calls and emailed images can be traced to her phone. But, Blanchette said in an interview, “You’re only seeing part of the conversation… It’s really humiliating because I’ve been depicted as something completely different.”
(Blanchette is pictured in court on Tuesday, thanks to KHQ.)
Read the rest of my story here.
(Joel Mills/The Lewiston Tribune)
Sarah Parks’ family badly wants to know how she died.
With that in mind, they are supporting a plea agreement that will send her husband Silas Parks to prison for a maximum of 40 years, Latah County Prosecutor William Thompson Jr. said.
“I think at this point, in addition to wanting to be assured that an appropriate punishment is handed down, they also want to know exactly what happened,” Thompson said.
Silas Parks pleaded guilty Tuesday to two counts of voluntary manslaughter and one count of first-degree arson in connection with the death last year of his pregnant wife, Sarah Parks, a third-grade teacher at Moscow Charter School.
Silas Parks, 26, of Kendrick, Idaho, was initially charged with two counts of first-degree murder and the arson count.
But a plea deal negotiated with the Latah County Prosecutor’s Office reduced the murder charges. It also stipulated that as part of a presentence investigation, Silas Parks will describe in detail how he killed Sarah Parks and then set fire to their Moscow duplex.
Read the rest of the Lewiston Tribune story here.
A bald eagle was found shot to death in Riverside State Park last week - the second killed locally this month.
The Humane Society of the United States is offering a reward of up to $2,500 for tips that lead to the killer’s conviction. Apark ranger found the bird on South Bank Road.
The Humane Society already is offering a reward for tips that help convict the person who shot a bald eagle the weekend of March 6. That bird was found on the south bank of Long Lake off Long Lake Road.
Bald eagles are federally protected birds. Killing them is a federal crime that carries up to a year in prison and fines up to $100,000.
The Humane Society is offering the reward with the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust.
Anyone with information is asked to call the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement at (509) 928-6050.
(The Associated Press photo at the right shows a bald eagle at Frentress Lake in the backwaters of the Mississippi River.)
A judge declared a mistrial Tuesday in the trial of three Coeur d’Alene brothers accused of racially harassing a Hispanic family in August.
Kootenai County 1st District Judge John Luster declared the mistrial after Deputy Prosecutor Art Verharen played a recording of a 911 call made by witness Julie Oliver, a next-door neighbor. Oliver could be heard telling the dispatcher she believed the incident she saw from her kitchen window was “a racist thing,” and that her neighbor, Kenneth Requena, was being threatened.
A new trial for Ira Gino Tankovich, 47, Frank James Tankovich, 46, and William Michael Tankovich Jr., 49, (left to right) has been scheduled for April 12.
Read the rest of Alison Bogg’s story here
Previous coverage: CdA men deny hate crime allegations
A body found in the Spokane River west of Post Falls last weekend has been identified as 31-year-old Spokane fugitive wanted since December on car theft charges.
A bail bonds company had offered a $1,000 reward for tips that led to the arrest of Christopher M. Schelling (left) after he failed to show up for a hearing in Spokane County Superior Court. When he didn’t show up for court in December, the bond company distributed wanted posters near a home on East Columbia Avenue that’s been linked to an ongoing drug and stolen property investigation.
On Saturday, a young man walking near South Richards Road, west of Post Falls along the river, found a body that aurthorities identified Tuesday as Schelling. Investigators identified Schelling through his tattoos.
Schelling’s body had “no obvious trauma,” said Major Ben Wolfinger of the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department. But the initial autopsy results did not reveal his cause of death, and detectives are trying to determine how Schelling ended up in the river, Wolfinger said.
He was wearing clothes indicating cooler weather and appeared to have been in the water for several weeks or months, according to the Sheriff’s Department. He’d been reported missing and was last seen Dec. 3, Wolfinger said.
Schelling posted $40,000 bond in November on several felony charges stemming from arrests last summer, but the bond company started looking for him when he didn’t show up for court in December.
Crime Stoppers also offered a reward for tips that led to Schelling’s capture, but authorities had no leads until Schelling’s body was found Saturday.
Schelling was a longtime felon with convictions for attempting to elude a police vehicle, second-degree burglary, second-degree theft, drug possession and unlawful possession of a firearm.
He was charged last summer with second-degree theft, two counts drug possession, two counts of possession of a stolen motor vehicle, resisting arrest and possessing a motor vehicle theft tool.
A police dog helped capture him in June after he wrecked a stolen Suzuki motorcycle in Millwood Park, then ran from deputies into a nearby home.
A Crime Stoppers news release on Jan. 12 said he last listed in the 300 block of South Dishman Road in Spokane Valley. A news article about a robbery in which he was arrested in 2000 listed his hometown as Newport, Wash.
Anyone with information about Schelling is asked to call Detective Jerry Northrup at (208) 446-1300.
Spokane drivers who run red lights at four new camera-equipped intersections can expect $124 tickets beginning Thursday.
The cameras are located at Freya Street facing north at Third Avenue, Second Avenue facing west at Thor Street, Wellesley Avenue facing east at Ash Street, and Division Street facing north at Sprague Avenue.
Red-light runners at those intersections have received only warnings since the cameras were activated March 1, but the warning period ends this week.
Officers have approved 416 warnings through those cameras as of March 23, according to the Spokane Police Department. Another 184 are pending.
The city began fining red light violators caught on camera Nov. 1, 2008. Two cameras are at Francis Avenue and Division Street. One camera monitors Sprague Avenue and Browne Street, and another is at Mission Avenue and Hamilton Street.
Spokane issued 5,690 camera tickets that resulted in revenue of $419,000, Officer Teresa Fuller said in a Jan. 6 article.
But a review of collisions reports shows the camera-equipped intersections had an increase in crashes and injuries in the first year of the controversial program.
Read the story: Red-light cameras yet to signal safety
Three brothers accused of harassing a Coeur d’Alene man because of his ethnicity will stand trial this week in Kootenai County District Court.
Opening statements are expected today in the trial of Ira Gino Tankovich, 47, Frank James Tankovich, 46, and William Michael Tankovich Jr., 49, (left to right) who were indicted by a grand jury last under Idaho’s hate crime law.
The men’s lawyers have characterized the Aug. 16 incident at the home of Kenneth H. Requena as a misunderstanding blown out of proportion after Aryan literature was distributed in Coeur d’Alene. The brothers say they simply asked to buy electrical equipment from the man and were stunned when he pulled a gun on them.
Ira Tankovich, who has a star with the word “Aryan” tattooed on his left calf and a star with the word “pride” tattooed on his right calf, was arrested the day of the incident after Requena and his wife told police he’d been approached by Tankovich and his brothers in a truck decorated with swastikas and the words “born to kill.”
The men left after Requena got a gun from his wife, then returned about 20 minutes later with a gun and a pit bull, yelling racial slurs, according to court documents Requena told police he asked his wife to bring him a gun from inside the home when the men first pulled up because “he knew he was about to get a beat down,” according to a police report.
Frank and William Tankovich were arrested after a grand jury indicted them in November. William Tankovich posted $100,000 bail but was jailed in December after a judge ruled he’d fraudulently posted a property bond. He’s since been released on bond.
William Tankovich faces up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Prosecutors amended charges against Ira and Frank Tankovich to declare them habitual offenders, which increases their potential penalty to five years to life in prison.
Read more about the case in this story from December: CdA men deny hate crime allegations
A rapist who sexually assaulted a Spokane County Jail cellmate five years ago now is accused of failing to register as a sex offender.
Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that lead to the arrest of Marcus E. Hardin, 38.
Hardin, a transient, is a longtime sex offender with convictions for obstructing a police investigation, city assault, domestic violence assault, third-degree assault, rape, intimidation with a weapon, drug possession, drunken driving, driving while license suspended, malicious mischief and failure to register as a sex offender, according to Crime Stoppers.
He was convicted of third-degree assault with sexual motivation in October 2005 and sentenced to 51 to 60 months in prison after an 18-year-old cellmate accused him of rape.
Anyone with information on Hardin’s location is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (509) 327-5111 or (800) 222-TIPS, or submit tips online. Tipsters do not have to give a name but should provide a code name or number.
Read the story on Hardin from 2005: Sex offender accused of jailhouse rape
A gunman shot and killed by Spokane police on Friday had assaulted law enforcement in Vancouver, Wash., eight years ago.
Todd E. White, 46, pleaded guilty to two counts of felony third-degree assault in January 2002 — two months after he attacked two sheriff’s deputies in a Clark County courtroom.
White had a warrant for his arrest stemming from those earlier convictions when police say he fired shots at an officer responding to a report that White was outside his sister’s home with a gun on Friday.
The officer, who has not been identified, fired several shots, and White was later pronounced dead at a hospital. The officer or officers involved in the shooting, who are expected to be publicly identified this week, have been placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard protocol for police-involved shootings.
The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the case with the Spokane Police Department.
Sheriff’s Sgt. Dave Reagan said on Monday that he had no new information. He said he could not say if officers knew of White’s criminal history when they responded to a call for help from White’s brother-in-law, Gary Paul, about 6 a.m. on Friday.
Felons are prohibited from possessing firearms. A suspect’s criminal history can mean increased police response to an initial call but doesn’t change protocol for lethal force.
The incident began when a neighbor called the Pauls on Friday morning to tell them that White was outside the home with a gun, according to the Sheriff’s Office. White and Heidi Paul’s father recently died, and “there was a dispute over some guns that had been inherited,” Reagan said.
Police haven’t said how many shots White fired before he was shot. He collapsed in the Paul’s yard and was pronounced dead about 8 a.m.
Clark County issued a warrant for White in 2005 for not paying fines related to his third-degree assault convictions, according to court records.
When the assaults occurred, White was already in jail for failing to comply with terms of previous felony convictions for trafficking in stolen property and forgery in 1993 and 1995.
White was in an inmate-attorney interview room when an official told deputies he was “not being cooperative, was refusing to sit down and was slamming the door,” according to court documents.
White refused a deputy’s orders and shoved him when the deputy tried to grab his upper arm. The two began punching each other, and another deputy “joined the fight” before White was handcuffed, according to court documents.
White was sentenced to eight months in jail for the assaults.
Police say White, a father of four, lived in Spokane.
Past coverage: Gunman killed in police shootout identified
A would-be shoplifting suspect faces a second-degree robbery charge after store employees said he assaulted them.
Daniel F. Barcellos, Jr., 40, ran from the Big R store, 8307 East Trent Ave., on Saturday with a $200 leather jacket before trying to punch and shove three employees who chased him, according to the Spokane Valley Police Department.
Barcellos, who employees says is suspected of previous thefts, had been spotted trying to stuff a leather boot inside the jacket. He assaulted employees who tried blocking his path before he was finally tackled near Trent and Vista, police said.
Police found wire cutters on Barcellos, and the leather jacket he was wearing had Big R tags, but the security device had been removed.
Barcellos’s criminal history includes convictions for reckless and negligent driving, driving on a suspended license, theft, malicious mischief, domestic violence assault, violation of court orders and probation violations, according to Crime Stoppers.
He appeared today in Superior Court, where his bond was set at $25,000.
A burglary suspect accused of stabbing a homeowner was arrested this weekend after nearly three months as a fugitive.
Ronald D. Piercy II, 46, is in Spokane County Jail on $75,000 bail after appearing in court today on charges of first-degree burglary and second-degree assault.
Crime Stoppers had been offering a reward for tips leading to his capture since Dec. 30, one day after a man living in the 200 block of East Empire Ave. returned home with his wife and 14-year-old daughter to find Piercy standing in his garage, according to court documents.
Piercy is accused of stabbing the man in the left forearm “with an unknown object” before fleeing, police said.
Police found a 1997 Buick Skylark with its keys in the ignition parked across the street from the home. The Buick was registered to Ronald Piercy, Sr., of Endicott, and Piercy reportedly told police it belonged to his son, who was in Spokane visiting his girlfriend.
The younger Piercy, who has convictions in Idaho, Washington and California, was booked into jail Friday evening. His arraignment is set for April 6.
A Coeur d’Alene man could be in prison for the rest of his life for two sex crimes, a judge ruled recently.
Kyle Richard West, 41, will serve four years in prison before he’s eligible for parole, according to a sentence imposed by Kootenai County District Judge John Mitchell.
West was sentenced to life in prison, with four years fixed and the rest indeterminate after pleading guilty Feb. 4 to two counts of lewd conduct with a minor under 16.
West’s “lack of remorse and inability or unwillingness to acknowledge the damage” done to his victim were factors in the sentence, according to the Kootenai County Prosecutor’s Office.
“Mr. West has an opportunity to seek and benefit from counseling while in prison so that he can avoid victimizing children in the future,” Prosecutor Barry McHugh said in a prepared statement. “If he is unable to comply with the terms of supervision, Judge Mitchell’s sentence allows for him to be removed from society for the rest of his life.”
A man accused of a shooting in which a bullet landed near a sleeping toddler was arrested after a fiery car crash Friday night.
Joseph L. Bledsaw, 25, rolled his 1997 Pontiac on Sprague Avenue beneath Interstate 90 after police Officer Chuck Sciortino and Reserve Deputy Bill Duffy tried stopping him on suspicion of speeding near Sprague and Havana about 9:10 p.m., according to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.
The Pontiac struck a median at Sprague and Havana, and it rolled several times, ejecting Bledsaw. His passenger, Tanya M. Roybal, 26, also was injured.
Roybal was arrested on a misdemeanor warrant. Bledsaw faces charges of first-degree assault, reckless endangerment and unlawful possession of a firearm in connection with a Feb. 27 shooting at the King’s Square Apartment, 15917 E. Sprague.
Police say Bledsaw fired shots into an apartment after a couple complained to police about noise. One of the bullets struck a metal bed post and landed on the blankets covering a 3-year-old girl, police said.
Bledsaw and Roybal were taken to a hospital before being booked into jail.
Bledsaw has a previous conviction for first-degree malicious mischief, as well as a drug conviction in Kootenai County.
Four Spokane Police Department employees have been named as possible witnesses in the federal trial of an officer charged in the death of Otto Zehm (right).
Senior Police Officer Robert Boothe, Patrol Offier Jason Uberuaga, Detective Scott Lesser and Assistant Police Chief Jim Nicks are listed in a document filed this week in U.S. District Court.
Boothe is the lead defensive tactics instructor for the Spokane Police Department and trained Thompson on the use of force. The document says Boothe “is qualified” to testify on a number of issues, including that “the firing of a taser at Otto Zehm, who was actively resistant but not actively assaultive, was objectively unreasonable and is contrary to the Department’s defensive tactics training, and violated Spokane Police Department policies.”
Uberuaga can testify that, among other things, “Officer Thompson also did not “stop” at any time to give his claimed verbal commands to Otto Zehm,” according to the documents.
Lesser is the police department’s certified Taser instructor. He’ll be able to testify that policy calls for tasers to be used only if a suspect is “displaying assaultive behavior toward the officer or other subjects,” according to court documents.
Nicks may testify that “Based on the security video, Otto Zehm did not take a boxing stance and/or throw punches at Officer Thompson in the south aisle. The objective video evidence is inconsistent with Officer Thompson’s statement to SPD investigators,” according to the documents.
Prosecutors also filed a detailed list of possible expert witnesses outside the police department.
Defense attorney Carl Oreskovich filed a list of witnesses today, too. They include: D.P. Van Blaricom, Daniel Davis, M.D.; Mark DeBard, M.D; James Nania, M.D; Gary Stimac, M.D; and Allen Tencer, PhD.
No details of their expected testimony were included in the filings.
Read the documents:
A shootout with police early Friday killed a Spokane man who investigators say threatened family in a dispute over firearms.
Todd Ely White, 46, died after Spokane police officers returned gunfire in front of the southeast Spokane home of White’s brother-in-law, Gary Paul, and his wife, Heidi Paul.
Police were responding to a report that White was stalking the Pauls at 4127 E. 36th Ave. when White fired shots at an officer who retreated, then returned fire, said Sgt. Dave Reagan of the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.
No officers were injured.
White had a warrant for his arrest out of Clark County for violating the terms of felony convictions from 2001, 1995 and 1993. Details of those convictions were not available late Friday, but felons are prohibited from possessing firearms.
Read the rest of my story here.
PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania man was charged with public drunkenness after he was seen trying to resuscitate a long-dead opossum along a highway.
State police Trooper Jamie Levier says several witnesses saw 55-year-old Donald Wolfe, of Brookville, near the animal Thursday along Route 36 in Oliver Township, about 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.
The trooper says one person saw Wolfe kneeling before the animal and gesturing as though he were conducting a seance. He says another saw Wolfe attempting to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
Levier says the animal already had been dead a while.
The Associated Press could not locate a home telephone number for Wolfe.
OREM, Utah (AP) — Utah police say a man accused of stealing two phones from a convenience store was arrested when he flagged down the investigating officer and asked for directions.
Police say the officer noticed that John White (left) matched the description a store clerk gave of the thief, and the address White wanted turned out to be the same one the officer was checking.
The address had been left on a slip of paper the thief left at a gas station.
White was arrested Tuesday after the officer found he had both phones, along with a small amount of marijuana.
Police say charges are pending.
A Spokane man who shot another man at a park nearly two years acted maliciously, but he didn’t try to kill his victim, a jury ruled Friday.
Aleksandr V. Pavlik, 26, was convicted of first-degree assault but acquitted of first-degree attempted murder for a shooting in the Mission Park parking lot on May 19, 2008, that injured Gabriel Leenders.
Read the rest of the story here.
A heroin bust near a Spokane Catholic school led to the indictment of three people in U.S. District Court this week.
Richard J. Bordwell, Susan L. Goin and Lonnie R. Goin are accused of selling heroin out of an apartment at 807 E. Augusta Ave., which is about a block from St. Aloysius School.
Lonnie Goin, 30, was arrested on a drug possession charge March 10, according to court records, and is in custody at Geiger Correction Center. Bordwell was sentenced in May to a year in prison for drug dealing in a different case. Susan Goin is not in custody.
The three were indicted Wednesday on federal charges of heroin distribution, conspiracy to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin and maintaining drug-involved premises within 1,000 feet of a private elementary school.
Goin already has a conviction for drug possession in 2008, according to news archives. His father, Lonnie R. Goin, Sr., was sentenced in December 2008 to 20 months in prison with credit for 158 days served in jail after pleading guilty to five drug charges. Read about his arrest here.
Also indicted this week: A Spokane Valley couple arrested nearly a year ago with 2 1/2 pounds of methamphetamine.
The Spokane County sheriff’s SWAT team raided the home of Michael D. “Bull” Luce, alias Kenneth Michael Luce, and Amanda G. McIntyre at 1421 E. Rowan on April 30.
Along with the meth, investigators reportedly found four firearms, including an AK-47. The two were arrested but never arraigned on state charges. They were indicted Thursday on one federal charge of possession with intent to distribute more than 50 grams of meth. Luce also was charged with felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.
Joining the newly indicted federal defendants is accused ATM burglar/drug dealer/gun possessor/bail bondsman threaten-er/ George Butrick.
Already in jail on about a dozen state charges ranging from drugs to assault, Butrick was indicted Thursday in U.S. District Court on one count of felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition for a revolver and 10 ammo rounds police found on Oct. 30, according to court document.
Read more about Butrick: Police: Gunman threatens bail bond employee
An illegal car-racing gambling Web site that authorities say a Spokane Valley man ran from his home may have operated undetected for as long as a decade.
But the black flag dropped on the NASCAR gambling site Thursday when state officials arrested David B. Watkins, 54, on suspicion of felony professional gambling after an early-morning raid.
Watkins is accused of operating FantasyThunder.com, a Web site that collected bets on professional car races placed by people around the world.
Gamblers paid $90 for a team of eight NASCAR drivers; authorities say Watkins kept about half and used the rest to pay winners. But when players complained that they hadn’t been paid, gambling officials began investigating a Web site they say violates state gambling laws. Authorities don’t plan to pursue gambling charges against the participants.
“We’d rather have them be witnesses,” said Gary Drumheller, the agent in charge at the state Gambling Commission’s Spokane office. “We’re more after the person who was putting this all together, and that would be Mr. Watkins.”
Watkins, a former resident of Bayview, Idaho, had a Post Office box in Greenacres where participants sent checks, according to court documents. Others would call in bets and give Watkins their credit card information.
Players told investigators the fantasy league had been operating anywhere from three or four years to 10 years, Drumheller said. Payouts were in the thousands, but players told investigators that Watkins stopped paying winners “for the second half of the 2009 NASCAR season,” according to a search warrant.
Player James Marks of Scranton, S.C., estimated the unpaid earnings to be at least $50,000.
“He fell off the face of the Earth,” Marks said of Watkins. “We were willing to work with him; we understand times are hard … but when you run off and don’t say any damn thing, that’s just like stealing.”
Marks gambled through Fantasy Thunder for about three or four years, he said. He said he never realized the operation was illegal.
“There’s a thousand online gambling Web sites,” Marks said. “I don’t know the legalities; I’m not a lawyer.”
Watkins faces a charge of second-degree professional gambling, which is defined in state statute as accepting wagers that exceed $2,000 “during any thirty-day period on future contingent events.” The charge is a class C felony that carries up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Watkins does not have a criminal record, Drumheller said. Watkins and his wife, Cally Watkins, were “very cooperative” when gambling agents arrived about 7 a.m. at their home at 3805 S. Ridgeview Ave., Drumheller said.
Court documents said Watkins works in the professional cleaning industry.
Watkins was booked into Spokane County Jail. He’s expected to appear in Superior Court on Friday.
By Thomas Clouse
A federal judge ruled Thursday in favor of the city of Spokane and granted a motion brought by the attorneys for Officer Karl F. Thompson Jr. to obtain Otto Zehm’s mental health records from a 2000 stay at Eastern State Hospital.
However, U.S. District Judge Fred Van Sickle said he will wait until later to determine whether Thompson gets to use those mental health records in his defense during the trial, which is currently set for June 2.
“Officer Thompson is entitled to offer evidence – including information which he was unaware at the time of the confrontation – as long as the evidence tends to make his version of the confrontation more probable,” Van Sickle wrote in part. “Information in Mr. Zehm’s psychiatric records arguably satisfies that standard.”
Thompson’s attorney, Carl Oreskovich, last week argued that Zehm had been off his medication for paranoid schizophrenia for several weeks prior to his March 18, 2006, confrontation with Thompson. Therefore, Oreskovich said, Zehm, a 36-year-old janitor, was already exhibiting characteristics of “excited delirium” before Thompson confronted him.
However, Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim Durkin argued that excited delirium is not a medically recognized term and only is used by police agencies to describe otherwise unexplainable deaths by persons when they are being taken into custody.
Durkin said Thursday that he could not discuss the case, and Oreskovich could not be reached late Thursday for comment.
“At this stage in the proceedings, the Court does not rule on the admissibility of the evidence sought by Officer Thompson,” Van Sickle wrote. “If, in fact, Mr. Zehm behaved in a defiant and aggressive manner on March 18, 2006, due to a lack of medication, Officer Thompson may have been justified in using force to subdue him.”
Past coverage: Thompson’s defense wants Zehm’s medical records
Michael A. Quinones, 29, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder for the Oct. 6, 2008, strangulation death of 28-year-old Jennifer L. Siria.
“This was not a planned thing,” Quinones said. “Frankly, I don’t remember half of it. I’m not a brutal savage. This just got out of hand that night. I’m sorry it occurred.”
Another defendant, 19-year-old Matthew T. Shope, is expected to be sentenced for the murder soon.
Read Tom Clouse’s story here.
Spokane police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick awarded her highest honor today to a young boy who saved his mother’s life.
Jason Graham saved his mother, Beverley Graham, as she took him in for a hair cut on Jan. 22. Graham is the boy’s biological grandmother who adopted him at birth.
The 8-year-old boy was honored Thursday by Kirkpatrick and several special guests in front of his Roosevelt Elementary schoolmates.
Read Jody Lawrence-Turner’s story here.
Read Kirkpatrick’s speech to Jason by clicking the link below.
A standoff with a Moses Lake man accused of raping a woman at knife point ended with his arrest late Wednesday after authorities pumped noxious gas into his hiding spot.
Mario Noyola Jr., 31, faces charges of first-degree rape and first-degree incest, according to the Grant County Sheriff’s Office.
The case began Tuesday afternoon when deputies found a 33-year-old woman dressed in a t-shirt and bath towel standing the intersection of Travis and Halsey in Moses lake.
The woman said she’s been raped at knife point in her home, but deputies didn’t find a suspect when they searched the residence. They identified Noyola through interviews.
The victim “initially allowed him into her house when he told her he had been locked out of his house and needed somewhere to stay,” the Sheriff’s Office reported.
The U.S. Marshals Office in Spokane helped Grant County detectives locate Noyola in the 1400 block of West Craig Street in Moses Lake, where he was arrested about 11 p.m. after an hours-long standoff, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
A man accused of strangling a woman to death over $20 is set to plead guilty and be sentenced today in Spokane County Superior Court.
Michael A. Quinones, 29, is charged with first-degree murder for the Oct. 6, 2008, death of Jennifer Lee Siria, 28. Quinones and a teen were panhandling in north Spokane when Siria let them stay at her apartment at 537 E. Hawthorne Road.
Quinones was arrested at a Montana homeless shelter on Oct. 10. His alleged accomplice, Matthew T. Shope, now 19, was already in jail on a first-degree murder charge. His trial is set for April 12.
A Spokane County sheriff’s deputy picked up Shope and Quinones while they were walking in the area of Siria’s apartment at 537 E. Hawthorne Ave. about 3 a.m. Oct. 6, 2008,shortly after authorities believe they killed Siria. The deputy drove the two to Garland Avenue and Division Street, as Quinones had requested, and let Quinones go.
But Shope refused to exit the car and said he’d run away from Daybreak, a teen drug rehabilitation center, and had a warrant in Kootenai County. After dispatchers failed to find an arrest warrant, Palmer drove the boy to Daybreak, where Shope told a caseworker he’d told Palmer about the warrant because Quinones had threatened to kill him and he feared him, according to court records.
As Shope began to wash his bloody clothes, he told his caseworker “he had been involved in something that could send him to prison for a long time,” according to court documents. “Matthew stated that he did not do the act he was talking about but that he did nothing to stop it and had been going through the victim’s belongings when the act was committed.”
Quinones’ sentencing is set for 2:30 p.m. before Judge Maryann Moreno.
Prosecutor Steve Tucker doesn’t know the guy’s name or where he’s from, but he’s hoping that the “professional prosecutor” found by a consultant can help Spokane County solve a worsening problem of releasing crime suspects back into the community because his office is unable to file necessary paperwork.
“I’m not too much in favor of hiring more consultants,” Tucker said. “That money could be used hiring attorneys back and getting them back to work here.”
But he said he agreed to the plan rather than risk being labeled an “obstructionist.”
Read the rest of Tom Clouse’s story here.
TWISP, Wash. (AP) — Leaders of the small northcentral Washington community of Twisp would like you to be polite in their town. But they’re not going to ticket you if you’re not.
On Tuesday, the Town Council unanimously voted down a proposal by new Police Chief Rob Hall to prohibit verbal abuse. The ordinance would not have outlawed swearing. But it would have allowed police to issue a $50 ticket to people who use violent abusive language in situations reasonably calculated to provoke a breach of safety or peace. Hall asked for the new municipal code after a customer went to a business recently and directed offensive language at the woman behind the counter.
At least a dozen people commented, and a majority were against the proposed ordinance.
Mayor Bill Boosman says while the proposal generally fit the town’s feeling about civility, many felt it could infringe on free speech.
A big stolen property bust that culminated with five raids yesterday appears to be connected to a big identity theft ring detectives uncovered a couple weeks ago.
Ronald R. Foreman is accused of masterminding a multi-state check fraud ring that bilked businesses out of thousands of dollars.
A tipster who helped police with Foreman’s case also said that Foreman planned to rob a methamphetamine dealer named Tracy Pirello, according to a search warrant filed today in Spokane County Superior Court.
Pirello is named in the warrant as an accomplice to John “Animal” Rose, who was arrested with several others Tuesday in a stolen property and drug investigation by the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.
Detectives searched Rose’s property at 19201 E. Boone Ave., where other suspects arrested Tuesday allegedly stored stolen goods. Cole T. Monson reportedly got methampethme from Tamara D. Geurin, 28, in exchange for the goods, according to the search warrant.
Geurin already is in jail on federal drug charges, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court. She pleaded not guilty to possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of meth earlier this month.
Monson appeared in court today, along with Rose and the others arrested Tuesday. Read more about them here.
Past coverage: Couple’s ex-lover told police about fraud ring
A drive-by shooting late Saturday led Spokane police to search a Mercedes Benz and its owner’s apartment on Tuesday.
No one was injured when at least eight shots were fired outside 857 E. Lyons Ave. - the same location of a drive-by shooting last month.
A search warrant filed today identifies the intended victim in both cases as 26-year-old William Alexander-Durr.
On Saturday, Alexander-Durr told police he was standing outside his girlfriend’s apartment when a passenger in a silver 1999 Mercedes Benz fired eight shots.
Police think Alexander-Durr was targeted in another shooting that occurred about 1:45 a.m. on Feb. 14. A car belonging to Alexander-Durr’s girlfriend was damaged in that shooting. At the time, police said it might be related to a shooting near North Nevada and East Joseph later that morning. (Read more here.)
In the most recent case, police learned the suspect vehicle was registered to Adrian A. Washington, 30. Investigators searched his apartment and the Benz on Tuesday. No arrests have been made.
Alexander-Durr was one of several men arrested last fall in connection with a stabbing in front of a downtown Spokane night club. He pleaded guilty Jan. 28 to riot and received credit for two days served in Spokane County Jail. Another defendant, Parrish J. Johnson, 24, received six months in jail after pleading guilty to riot last month.
The men are the only defendants to resolve their charges from the Oct. 28 stabbing near Club Uno, 515 W. Sprague. Trials for Rakee D. Cage, 23; John D. Proctor, 24; Rashjel G. Cage, 24; and Adam Doe, 18, are set for June.
Club bouncers helped apprehend the men after Kenneth R. Budik and Charles L. Lucious were stabbed, according to court documents. Witnesses said one of defendants said, “There’s Kenny! Murder One Crips!” before the attack, according to court documents.
Budik was a victim in a shooting in 2007 that killed a reputed gang member. Although a victim, Budik ended up spending more time behind bars then the man convicted of the slaying because he didn’t cooperate with police. Read about that case here.
A shooting in a Spokane apartment last weekend where two young children live landed a 44-year-old man in jail on an assault charge.
Robert T. Finkbeiner is accused of shooting Rachel A. Mitchell in her left leg during a fight over a $40 debt at 813 E. Sinto on Sunday.
Mitchell was visiting a friend when Finkbeiner confronted her about money he said her boyfriend, a Spokane County Jail inmate, owed him, according to court documents filed Wednesday. Mitchell told police Finkbeiner shot her in the left leg. Her friend’s 3-year-old and 9-month-old children were in the room when he pulled the gun, police said.
Police learned of the case when Mitchell went to a hospital with a gunshot wound. She initially lied to investigators about what happened, according to court documents.
Finkbeiner was booked into jail Tuesday after police searched his apartment at 1924 W. Gardner. He appeared in Superior Court Wednesday on one count of first-degree assault.
A Spokane Valley man shot by police in December pleaded not guilty today to two counts of second-degree assault.
Michael E. Young, 55, is accused of pointing a handgun at Spokane Valley police officers Scott Bonney and Darell Stidham outside his home 11709 E. Fairview on Dec. 27.
Bonney, Stidham and Officer Walter Loucks shot Young several times. Officer Griffin Criswell tried to shoot but his gun malfunctioned, according to court documents.
The officers were responding to reports that Young was suicidal, according to court documents. One witness said Young never pointed his gun at police.
But each officer told investigators with the Spokane Police Department that Young raised the gun toward Bonney and Stidham, according to court documents.
Young’s lawyer, James Kirkham, said his client “maintains his innocence and plans to fight these charges.”
Young’s next Spokane County Superior Court hearing is scheduled for June.
Young was the third allegedly suicidal man shot by Spokane Valley police in two months late last year. (Read about one here.) Each of the men has been charged with assault.
Past coverage: Valley man shot by police is recovering at hospital
By MATT GOURAS (AP)
HELENA, Mont. — A hitchhiker originally sentenced to be executed for the 1951 killing of a Montana man who picked him up during a blizzard has been found running a wedding chapel under an assumed name in Arizona 38 years after he skipped out on parole.
Frank Dryman was found after the victim’s grandson hired an investigator who tracked the fugitive to his Arizona City notary and chapel business, where he was known as Victor Houston.
Now 78, Dryman is awaiting extradition proceedings today, a day after his arrest by the Pinal County sheriff’s office.
Dryman initially received a hanging sentence after a quick trial in 1955. His case became the focus of a battle over the death penalty and frontier justice, and he received a new sentence of life in prison with the help of the Montana Supreme Court.
In 1969, after just 15 years in prison, he was paroled. The Montana Department of Corrections said that today, the soonest a person convicted of murder could gain parole is 30 years. Dryman disappeared three years later. No Montana offender had been missing longer. “He just went into thin air in 1972,” said Clem Pellett, the victim’s grandson. “I don’t think that my grandfather’s death was well represented; it just got lost in all the ideologic conversation of the time.”
Pellett, a surgeon in Bellevue, Wash., pursued the case after first learning details last year while digging through old newspaper clippings in storage. He said the issue was never discussed in the family. Pellett said he was driven by a sense of curiosity, and does not feel like he needs any revenge since he never knew his grandfather Clarence, and knew little about the murder.
Newspaper clippings from the time say that Clarence Pellett stopped to pick up Frank Dryman in 1951 during a spring blizzard near Shelby, a small town in northern Montana. Pellett, who ran a small cafe, was shot seven times in the back as he tried to run away, according to the accounts.
The private investigator hired by the grandson used scores of documents the family dug up from old parole records, the Montana Historical Society and Internet searches to trace Dryman to the Cactus Rose Wedding Chapel. Pellett told Montana corrections officials of the discovery. Officials said Dryman acknowledged his identity to officers.
A call to the wedding chapel Wednesday was not answered.
The Montana Department of Corrections said that Dryman will be sent back to the state prison. He will face a parole revocation hearing within the next few months — and possible resumption of his life in prison sentence.
Pellett said he has learned his family has a long, coincidental history with Dryman. Records show that Pellett’s great aunt once testified in support of Dryman when the then 16-year-old was accused of robbing a liquor store.
“She came to his defense so that he was not labeled as a delinquent,” Pellett said.
Pellett, who only decided to hire a private investigator on a whim during a dinner party conversation, said he is not driven to see Dryman punished.
“The legal system will handle it,” the grandson said. “Whatever they decide is fine with me. I mean he is 78 years old.”
But Pellet, 56, said would like to finish writing the family history of the long trial.
“I want to see if he wants to talk to me,” Pellett said. “I just want to get information. There are holes in the story he could really add to.”
BELLINGHAM, Wash. (AP) — The Whatcom County prosecutor says a Bellingham police officer was justified in shooting at a murder suspect in February who later took his own life.
Prosecutor Dave McEachran said in a report last week that Daniel Salas had shot his ex-girlfriend and was running away when he was confronted by Officer Chad Cristelli. When Salas pulled a handgun from his pocket and refused orders to drop it Cristelli fired three shots. None hit Salas. Moments later he shot himself in the head.
The Bellingham Herald reports Officer Cristelli returned to work in late February.
An interstate fuel theft investigation unveiled hundreds of pieces of suspected stolen property Tuesday after law enforcement arrested seven people and seized heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine.
Law enforcement raided five places early Tuesday that Spokane County Sheriff’s detectives say could be connected to more than 100 unsolved burglaries and vehicle prowlings in the county.
Detectives rented a moving truck to haul suspected stolen property from a rented garage in the 6000 block of East Clements Lane northeast of Spokane.
The investigation began in November when Sgt. John Nowels used a computer database to track what he suspected was a trend in commercial burglaries and fuel thefts.
About that same time, Coeur d’Alene police named a suspect in fuel thefts, who Spokane detectives believe is connected to the suspects recently arrested, including Cole T. Monson, 36.
“These people have been very active for a long time,” said Sgt. Dave Reagan.
Read the rest of my story in tomorrow’s Spokesman-Review.
Meet Charles D. Baker. The 50-year-old convicted child molester is a level 1 sex offender, considered the least likely of the classifications to reoffend.
But his lengthy criminal history shows a likelihood to reoffend when it comes to property crimes - Crime Stoppers called him a “heavy hitter” and “armed career-criminal” with rap sheet that includes failure to register as a sex offender, malicious mischief, possession of stolen property and burglary.
Baker also is an example of what a consultant today told county commissioners is happening more and more: suspected felons released from jail because the Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office hasn’t filed charges within 72 hours.
Baker was arrested Feb. 7 on suspicion of residential burglary at 1712 E. Queen. He had an arrest warrant from the Department of Corrections for escape from community custody, according to court documents, but he walked out of jail when a judge ruled preliminary paperwork from the prosecutor’s office didn’t establish probable cause to hold him. Sheriff’s deputies wrote that paperwork, prosecutors say.
When prosecutors filed a residential burglary charge Feb. 17, Crime Stoppers issued a reward for tips leading to Baker’s arrest. He was re-arrested Feb. 23 and remains in jail.
Consultant David Bennett told county commissioners today that efforts to reduce jail needs through swift justice have hit a “significant roadblock” because the prosecutor’s office regularly is failing to file formal charges within 72 hours, leading to the release of suspected criminals.
Read John Craig’s story in tomorrow’s Spokesman-Review.
Read a previous story on the subject here.
Spokane’s three city fraud detectives now have help from a dozen Gonzaga University accounting students.
In a new program called the Justice for Fraud Victims Project, three supervised student teams gather the paperwork needed so a business owner can recover money, plus help law enforcement prosecute the criminals.
Read Tom Sowa’s story here.
A crash in Hayden Monday left an SUV entangled in power pole wires and partially suspended above the ground.
Timothy J. Toboyko’s 1997 Chevy Suburban was balanced on its back left corner, facing upward at a 45-degree angle, after Toboyko crossed into the eastbound lanes while westbound on Orchard Avenue, according to the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department.
Investigators don’t know what caused the crash, but they say alcohol was not a factor. Toboyko had stopped at the intersection before he crossed Government Way and stuck a stop sign, then hit the power pole.
The area was without power for about a half an hour. Toboyko was taken to Kootenai Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries.
The picture was sent to KHQ TV by Rachelle Wolfe.
A Spokane man accused of helping a woman rob a pharmacy last fall is suspected of threatening a witness in the case.
William E. Higgins pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree assault and intimidating a witness today in Spokane County Superior Court. He’s been in jail since March 17, accused of punching a man who helped detectives identify suspects in the Sept. 27 robbery at Rite Aid, 5520 N. Division.
Higgins, who turned 22 today, is charged with first-degree robbery for allegedly helping 20-year-old Ariel A. Arrieta rob that store of OxyContin.
He was out of jail on $10,00 bond but rearrested after witnesses said he attacked the man in a Deer Park park on March 6 and called him a “snitch.” Police already were aware of threatening phone calls Higgins made to the man, according to court documents.
Higgins remains in jail on $20,000 bond.
By Thomas Clouse
COLVILLE — A longtime psychologist for the Colville School District who also volunteered with police to help investigate child abuse pleaded guilty today to molesting one of his students and attempting to molest another.
Craig L. Figley, 59, of Colville, could be sent to prison for the rest of his life, though prosecutors will recommend he be ordered to serve about 13 years behind bars when he is sentenced on May 10.
“We have concerns about other victims,” Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen said. “We very much hope these were the (only) two.”
In addition to the first-degree child molestation charges, Figley pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography. Images of young boys were found on his school computer and his home computer contained images of young boys engaged in sex.
The mother of the one of the victims said she wants justice for her child.
“This man has been in the school system for 30 years. You don’t wake up one day and decide you are a pervert,” the mother said. “That’s my concern is that there are other victims.”
Read the rest of Clouse’s story here.
Trent Yohe, 37, lost consciousness after being restrained hand-and-foot, and died 12 days later of what a county medical examiner said was a shortage of oxygen to the brain.
Dr. John Howard attributed the oxygen loss to a combination of drugs, heart disease, “excited delirium” and the way in which Yohe was restrained.
Police define excited delirium as a medical emergency fed by a mix of extreme mental and physical excitement, often fueled by drugs or alcohol. Read the rest of John Craig’s story here.
According to a previous article, the lone civilian eyewitness to the deadly fight said she was afraid of retaliation and initially didn’t tell investigators about seeing a deputy kick Yohe while he was on the ground outside a Spokane Valley trailer.
Read that article here.
A man who fatally shot another man after a fight at a Coeur d’Alene bar last year pleaded guilty this week to second-degree murder.
Juan C. Aldana Villanueva, 23, (right) is in Kootenai County Jail awaiting sentencing for the murder of Timothy I. Wolfe, 21, on May 9, 2009.
Villanueva, who worked at a Post Falls restaurant, had argued with Wolfe, a member of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe who was home from college for Mother’s Day, at a Coeur d’Alene bar before Villanueva left, then returned to the downtown area with a gun, according to court documents.
Wolfe was shot to death near Third Street and Indiana Avenue about 2:15 a.m. Villanueva claimed self-defense, and police noted scratches on his face where he said Wolfe’s friends had attacked him.
Villanueva had been charged with first-degree murder but pleaded to the lesser charge in Kootenai County District Court on Monday. He faces 10 years to life in prison.
Past coverage: Police: CdA murder suspect waited for victim
ORTING, Wash. (AP) — The state’s Superintendent of Public Instruction was arrested over the weekend for suspicion of driving under the influence, his office confirmed Tuesday.
Randy Dorn was stopped by police around 1:30 a.m. Sunday near Orting High School in rural Pierce County. The Tacoma News Tribune was first Tuesday in reporting on the arrest. Dorn said in a statement Tuesday that he and his family were attending a community event Saturday night at which he drank beer with dinner. He was stopped by police on the way home.
“The public has a right to information regarding the conduct of elected officials. However, I hope people will understand and respect that this is a personal legal matter that at this time I am not at liberty to discuss,” Dorn’s statement said. “I look forward to the day when I will be able to discuss the details of this incident.”
OSPI spokesman Nathan Olson said he could not comment further on the matter.
Police cited Dorn for driving under the influence and he also received a ticket for driving 10 miles over the speed limit, Orting Police Chief Bill Drake said. He wasn’t booked into Pierce County Jail, according to booking records. No charges had been filed as of Tuesday afternoon, but an April 6 court date has been set for an arraignment in Orting Municipal Court.
A breathalyzer test found Dorn’s blood-alcohol content was 0.11 Sunday morning, which is 0.03 above the legal limit in Washington, according to a State Patrol report released to the News Tribune.
A police officer administered the test twice at about 3 a.m., roughly an hour and a half after the officer pulled Dorn over.
Drake said he wouldn’t release any additional information until the city prosecutor decided whether to press charges. Orting Prosecuting Attorney Aaron Walls said that a decision about charges would be made after police have sent the arrest documents to his office.
Although the arrest occurred over the weekend, Dorn’s office remained silent until the newspaper sought comment, perhaps in the hope that the incident might go unnoticed because it happened in such a remote area.
Only a rare public figure comes out ahead of the news to announce such a lapse, said David Olson, UW political science professor emeritus.
“The uniformity with which elected officials do not do that is quite impressive,” he said.
Dorn was elected in 2008 to a four-year term leading Washington’s K-12 education system, unseating three-term incumbent Terry Bergeson.
He was executive of the Public School Employees of Washington union from 1999 until taking his new job. Earlier in his career, he served seven years in the state House, and worked as a teacher and principal in Eatonville and other districts.
Spokane defense attorney John Clark will be honored Wednesday by the Spokane County Bar Association.
The 2010 Smithmoore P. Myers Professionalism Award, named after the
former U.S. magistrate judge and dean of the Gonzaga University School
of Law, will be presented at a ceremony at the Davenport Hotel.
“But the accolade comes at a time when Clark faces a challenge that has nothing to do with making sure police or prosecutors do their jobs: Clark doesn’t know how many days he has left to live.”
Read the rest of Tom Clouse’s story here.
A Spokane man accused of threatening to kill family members of a Colorado abortion doctor is scheduled to plead guilty to federal charges.
Donald Hertz, 70, is scheduled to enter the plea on April 5. He was too ill to attend a plea hearing that had been scheduled today in Denver, according to court documents.
Hertz is required to attend the court hearings in person after a judge denied his request to transfer to the case to Eastern Washington District Court. His doctors have written letters saying that travel and Colorado’s high elevation could be hazardous to Hertz’s ongoing medical issues.
Hertz was charged in August for a phone call authorities say he made on June 23 to the Boulder Abortion Clinic that threatened members of Dr. Warren Hern’s family. Hern is a friend of slain abortion doctor George Tiller.
Two days before Hertz allegedly made the threats, The Spokesman-Review ran a front page story detailing Hern’s late-term abortion practice and the increase in business he’s seen since Tiller’s murder.
Hertz is charged with making an interstate threat and violating a 1994 law that protects access to reproductive health services. He faces up to six years in prison.
A Cheney man is accused of kidnapping a woman and raping her before she escaped to safety with the help of a passing trucker.
Charles V. Huckabee, 47, has been in Spokane County Jail on $100,000 bail since his arrest March 16.
The woman told police Huckabee attacked her on March 8 after the two left “an informal bonfire gathering” at a bar in Medical Lake. He told her they were going to friends home but drove erratically to a trailer park, where he forced her to ingest a “small, dark solid substance” that she said effected her balance, according to court documents prepared by Cheney police.
“He basically terrorized her into submissive compliance to his demands,” according to court documents.
Huckabee told police the sex was consensual. The woman said she ran from the trailer and was driven by a tucker to a Cheney fast food restaurant.
Huckabee’s arraignment is scheduled for March 30 on charges of first-degree rape, first-degree kidnapping and unlawful imprisonment.
Huckabee, who reportedly told the victim he’d served 12 years in prison, had been arrested a day before the alleged attack after his wife said he’d threatened her, according to court documents.
News archives show he was involved in a big methamphetamine bust as a Cocolalla, Idaho resident in 1997.
Thursday was the fourth anniversary of the confrontation with Spokane police that led to unarmed shopper Otto Zehm’s death.
A gathering sponsored by the Peace & Justice Action League of Spokane took place at the Zip Trip, 1712 N. Division St., where Officer Karl Thompson confronted the 36-year-old, mentally ill janitor after two young women erroneously reported that he had stolen money from a nearby ATM. Read Tom Clouse’s story here.
The next day, Thompson appeared in U.S. District Court in downtown Spokane, where he faces felony charges of using unreasonable force and lying to investigators. His tiral is set for June 2.
Friday’s court appearances was for a motion hearing by Thompson’s lawyer seeking Zehm’s medical records from 2000, when Zehm went off his medications and had an episode that caused him to be involuntarily placed at Eastern State Hospital.
Lawyer Carl Oreskovich argues Zehm was suffering from “excited delirium” before his 2006 confrontation with police, making it a pre-existing mental condition that therefore justified the level of force used to detain him. A judge could rule on the request as early as this week.
Read Clouse’s story here.
Another man has been arrested in connection with an unsolved gang-related shooting in January.
Justin A. Battle, 29, is accused of possessing the stolen Ruger mini rifle police think was used to kill 38-year-old John S. Williams in an alley behind 5405 N. Crestline on Jan. 17. He was arrested after detectives searched his apartment at 1839 E. Marshall Ave. last week on suspicion that he was selling marijuana.
Police found crack cocaine and marijuana, along with a bullet and a firearm part that belonged to the mini rifle, which was stolen in a burglary in Chattaroy on Jan. 4, according to court documents. Battle is accused of helping a defendant in that burglary sell the mini rifle.
Battle, who was convicted of second-degree burglary in 1998, appeared in Spokane County Superior Court March 18 on charges of first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm and trafficking in stolen property. He’s out on $10,000 bond.
Three other men, Eric Burton, Jr., Antonio Cook, Jr., and Elexander R. Burgess have already been charged with possessing the mini rifle, which police found in a car rented by Burton. Burton and other reputed gang members were attending a birthday party at the Crestline apartment complex when Williams was killed.
Williams’ mother, Cindy Williams, said she believes the killer was after her grandson, John Williams’ 21-year-old son.
A man arrested outside a once-prominent Spokane developer’s home during a lengthy drug investigation is wanted by police.
Shad A. Johnson, 37, didn’t show up for a pre-trial conference March 5 on charges of first-degree taking a motor vehicle without permission and first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm. Now Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for information that leads to his arrest.
Johnson was arrested with a stolen Jeep and a handgun on Jan. 7, 2009, as detectives staked out Pinnacle Realty founder Joseph G. Ward’s home on Long Lake. Ward was arrested that day, too, in a massive Washington State Patrol investigation into a methamphetamine- and sex-fueled criminal enterprise allegedly operated out of his home.
Detectives completed the investigation last fall, but Ward hasn’t been charged. Deputy Prosecutor Shane Smith recently said that his office still is reviewing the case.
At the time of his arrest, Johnson told detectives the stolen Jeep he was driving had been loaned to him by Ward, according to court documents. Johnson is not related to Scott A. Johnson, a longtime felon serving three years in prison for his role in the case.
Shad Johnson last gave his address as 8940 N. Handler Drive in Hayden Lake, Idaho, according to Crime Stoppers. His criminal convictions in Idaho include aggravated assault and possession of methamphetamine.
Anyone with information on Shad Johnson’s location is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (509) 327-5111 or (800) 222-TIPS, or submit tips online.
Past coverage: Realtor’s arrest highlights perils of meth
A 24-year-old man who last lived in Hayden, Idaho, has been identified as a suspect in a February shooting in which a bullet landed near a sleeping 3-year-old girl.
Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for information that leads to the arrest of Joseph L. Bledsaw, who has felony convictions in Spokane and Kootenai Counties. Spokane Valley police say Bledsaw and another man confronted a couple at 15917 E. Sprague Ave. on Feb. 27 about a noise complaint.
Bledsaw was armed, police say, and when the couple retreated inside he fired shots into the apartment wall. One of the bullets passed through the exterior wall a few feet off the floor, striking a metal bed post and landing on the blankets covering a 3-year-old girl, police said.
Bledsaw is wanted on charged of first-degree assault, reckless endangerment and unlawful possession of a firearm because of a previous felony conviction.
He was sentenced to about one year to four years in prison in Idaho in 2004 on three counts of drug possession. He also was convicted of first-degree malicious mischief in Spokane County after crashing into several cars while fleeing a state trooper, according to news archives. (The picture above is from his arrest. Read the story here.)
Bledsaw was listed as a Hayden resident when convicted of violating a no-contact order in July 2009, but Crime Stoppers listed him as a transient in a news release last week.
If you have any information about where he is, call Crime Stoppers at (509) 327-5111 or (800) 222-TIPS, or submit tips online. Tipsters do not have to give a name but should provide a code name or number.
Past coverage: Shooter who nearly hit toddler still at large
Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that help identify a suspected check forger.
The man pictured in the Nike sweatshirt is accused of cashing checks stolen from 1997 Dodge Dakota in the 3700 block of North Audubon. A GPS device also was stolen from the car.
In the days following the break-in, the unidentified man forged and cashed checks totaling more than $1,200 at Fred Meyer, Huckleberry’s and other businesses, according to Crime Stoppers.
Anyone with information on the identity of either woman, or of the man is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (509) 327-5111 or (800) 222-TIPS, or submit tips online.
Tipsters do not have to give a name but should provide a code name or number.
Two men and a juvenile have been charged with the murder of a 17-year-old in Grant County this month.
Luis A. Mejia Nunez, 20 (right); Martin Ochoa Ramos, 41 (left); and a 15-year-old boy are accused of a drive-by shooting that killed Carlos D. Leyva on March 7.
Leyva and two friends were walking in the 1700 block of Road T.5 SW, between the small towns of Mattawa and Beverly, when men inside a passing car flashed hand signs.
The car drove by again, and someone inside fired shots. One killed Leyva, another injured one of his friends in the ankle.
Nunez, of Mattawa, and the 15-year-old, also from Mattawa, were arrested Wednesday. Ramos, of Sunnyside, was arrested Thursday on a felony warrant for being an accomplice to first-degree murder.
For sale: One 4-year-old boy.
That recent advertisement on a popular classifieds Web site has triggered a sheriff’s investigation into who was behind it. Was it a hoax, a desperate cry for help or something more sinister?
Investigators haven’t determined, but they’ve seized records from Craigslist they hope will hold clues to the author’s identity. For now, they’re remaining tight-lipped about an investigation that began when a Spokane woman spotted a Craigslist ad offering a boy named Gavin for $5,000, and contacted authorities.
“It’s kind of at a delicate point right now,” said Sgt. Dave Reagan, spokesman for the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.
A Spokane woman saw the ad late Feb. 28. It included a photo of a small child in a yellow fireman’s helmet and dark shirt with the word ‘Adventure’ on the front. It had been posted a day earlier just before 11 p.m., but had been removed by Craigslist when the woman returned to the site after copying the text - but not the photo - into a computer word processing program.
The ad was written by someone claiming to be the boy’s father. The author said the boy was a “great kid” but he could no longer afford to care for him. The boy loves basketball, football and soccer but doesn’t play with cars, refuses to eat vegetables and can scream for hours at a time.
“But he always has a smile on his face,” according to the ad. “It is going to kill me to do this but as I stated before I cannot afford to keep him. His Motherr (sp) is out of the picture and my parents no longer talk to me since I’ve had Gavin,” the ad read, according to the search warrant. “So I don’t know what else to do other than find a good family with kids or a couple that wants a son.”
The seller, who identified himself as Rick Obelophy, said he wouldn’t give the boy “to anyone.” “I want to meet with you and make sure you will be fit parents,” the ad read. Investigators can’t find any record for Rick Obelophy.
The ad requested interested buyers respond to an anonymous e-mail set up through Craigslist. A request for a search warrant filed Monday by detectives sought records for that e-mail address and any data associated with the ad from Craigslist headquarters in San Francisco.
Investigators aren’t ready to talk about more details, Reagan said.
Selling or buying minor children in Washington is a class C felony.
The former deputy prosecutor challenging his boss for the top prosecutor’s spot has a new campaign manager.
Rae Lynn Conger will manage Dave Stevens’ campaign against Prosecutor Steve Tucker, Stevens announced today. His former manager Michael Cathcart, left the campaign to become campaign manager for Michael Baumgartner, who is running for state Senate in the 6th district against Chris Marr.
Conger has a bachelor’s degree in communications from Eastern Washington University. In 2006, she spoke with The Spokesman-Review about her objection to identify her race on forms or applications. Read that story here.
Stevens was fired by Tucker last month. He’s challenging the dismissal through his union.
An escaped killer from Idaho was arrested in north Spokane today.
Kelly Renee Norton, 44, walked away from the Pocatello Women’s Correctional Center Sunday night, according to the Idaho Department of Correction.
She was arrested at Francis Avenue and Division Street about 10 a.m. this morning after detectives got a tip from Pocatello police.
Norton was sentenced in 1994 to a 10- to 20-year sentence for second-degree murder in Washington County. She also was convicted of drug possession.
Norton has been at the prison’s community custody unit since Oct. 9.
The unit is outside the main prison fence and houses minimum security inmates “who regularly work in the community,” according to the Idaho Department of Correction.
Authorities think Norton walked from the facility to a waiting vehicle.
KIRKLAND (AP) — A spokesman for the King County Sheriff’s Office says deputies found 385 marijuana plants at the home of a medical marijuana activist who was in a shootout with robbers.
Sgt. John Urquhart (URK’art) says investigators also found marijuana products such as butter, baked goods and paraphernalia. Deputies have no plans to arrest activist Steve Sarich but will forward their findings to the prosecutor’s office.
Sarich suffered minor wounds when robbers broke into his home early Monday. One fired a shotgun at him, and pellets hit his face and arm. Sarich fired a handgun at one robber, sending him to Harborview Medical Center in intensive care.
Sarich runs CannaCare, an organization that provides marijuana plants to patients. He said Tuesday morning that he does not flower marijuana plants at his house, but runs his grow operation like a nursery. He says many of the plants there were new cuttings and likely had not yet developed roots.
Door-to-door sales representatives from an Idaho company are prompting a flurry of calls to Crime Check from concerned Spokane Valley residents.
Salesmen with Rocky Mountain Insulation in Pocatello are selling insulation they say “may” qualify homeowners for an Avista Utilities or federal tax rebate, according to the Spokane Valley Police Department.
The men ask homeowners if they can come inside to check the home’s insulation and sometimes imply they are with Avista, police said. Avista officials say the men are not associated with the company.
A phone number listed for Rocky Mountain Insulation has been disconnected. Police urge residents to use caution when dealing with strangers at the door.
“Asking for company identification is a good start,” Sgt. Dave Reagan said in a news release. “Prior to allowing any sales person inside your home, conceal purses, wallets, checkbooks and other easy-to-steal items of value. Escort the person through your home and watch for suspicious activity.”
Anyone who thinks they may have been a victim of a crime is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.
Mike Ormsby can blame his godfather if the U.S. Senate confirms him as the next U.S. attorney for Eastern Washington.
At age 11, Ormsby got worked up over something he viewed as unfair. He then spoke to his godfather, the late Mike Hemovich, about his work as a criminal defense attorney.
Hemovich “told me what a noble calling being a lawyer was,” Ormsby said. “He said you are in a position to help people in a number of ways as long as you were willing to listen to their issues and problems. I was hooked. From that point forward, I was going to college and law school to become an attorney.”
Read the rest of Tom Clouse’s story here.
Past coverage: U.S. attorney nominee faces opposition
A Tri-Cities man was sentenced to 60 days in jail on Monday in a plea deal that dropped 11 felonies that could have sent him to prison for life.
Nicholas W. J. Birden, 19, had been charged with 10 counts of drive-by shooting and attempted first-degree murder in connection with a June 11 shooting in Spokane.
Birden was playing basketball when he became angry and fired a shot at the other players, according to court testimony. No one was injured.
Birden entered an Alford plea to second-degree assault, meaning he didn’t admit guilt but acknowledged enough evidence existed for a conviction.
A Ferry County man who was drunk during a highway crash last fall was not responsible for the death of the other driver, a jury recently decided.
John H. Clifford was acquitted of vehicular homicide but convicted of drunken driving for an Oct. 2 crash on Highway 21 about fives miles north of Malo.
The 9:20 p.m. crash killed Arthur M. Voges, 49, of Malo. Voges’s wife, Linda, suffered a cracked rib, according to a previous report.
Investigators said Clifford’s 1993 Isuzu Rodeo crossed the center line, but Clifford, who was 66 at the time of the crash, told jurors it was Voges who had crossed the center lane.
Clifford will be sentenced for drunken driving on Friday. He is represented by Republic lawyer Steve Graham.
Past coverage: Highway 21 crash kills Malo man
A reputed Spokane gang member facing life in prison for a shooting last summer faces four additional counts of attempted first-degree murder after turning down a plea deal.
Timothy L. “Stoney Boy” Lucious, 39, faces a life sentence under Washington’s three-strikes law. He’s been in jail since October on two counts of first-degree attempted murder (alternate charges of first-degree assault are offered) and one count of second-degree assault for a shooting July 24.
Those charges were amended last week to add four additional counts of attempted first-degree murder and one count of drive-by shooting after Lucious rejected a plea deal, according to documents prepared by Deputy Prosecutor Mark Cipolla. Details of that plea deal were not available.
Cipoilla explained his decision in court documents: A prosecutor offering “hardball choices to a defendant does not make the process constitutionally unfair, so long as the choices are realistically based upon evidence and options are known to both sides,” he wrote. Police found additional witnesses to the shooting that enabled prosecutors to file the additional charges.
Another man charged in the July incident, Michael “Mikey Mike” Gardner, pleaded guilty to third-degree assault in January and was released from jail. He returned a couple weeks later after being arrested in a new assault arrested in a new assault case.
A woman accused of kidnapping her sons from her ex-husband 12 years ago is expected back in Spokane this week to face a felony charge after fighting extradition from Pennsylvania.
Jill D. Haugen, who also is known as Jill Connington, has been in a Pennsylvania jail since Dec. 29, when police arrested her on suspicion that she picked up her sons for a visit in 1998 but never returned them.
The boys, now 17 and 15, were living with Haugen in Milton, Pa., where she was going by the name Ann Thompson.
Spokane police are expected to travel to Pennsylvania this week to get Haugen, who faces one charge of child custodial interference, said Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor John Love. The felony carries a maximum penalty of about a year in jail. The boys were set to return to their father, William Connington of Spokane.
“The bigger picture is here’s a father who hadn’t seen his kids for 10 years, and thought he probably never would see his kids again,” Love said.
Haugen, 48, said as said that she is a victim of domestic violence and her sons are victims of sexual abuse. Police say there’s no merit to her claims. She faces a $25,000 bail in Spokane County, the same amount she’s been held on in Pennsylvania.
William Connington testified at an extradition hearing in Northumberland County on Friday, according to The Daily Item in Sunbury, Pa.
“She ran because she knew she was going to lose the kids. Not because of anything else,” he said, according to an article you can read here.
The man who shot his wife’s ex-husband before killing himself had been sued for a shooting incident in 2005.
Chad L. Moore, 35, (left) was serving as his own lawyer in a lawsuit filed by 70-year-old Orville Robert Boyd, who accused him of negligence and recklessness in a March 20, 2005, incident near Athol.
Moore and a friend, Ryan W. Beamer, were shooting Glock pistols on a private road about one mile north of Chilco Road when Boyd approached on an ATV with a gunshot to his right chest.
Moore called 911, and Beamer ran up the road to meet medics. Moore told a Kootenai County Sheriff’s deputy he’d been target shooting there since he was a small child, according to a report. The shooting was ruled accidental, and Moore was never charged with a crime. The police report listed his employer as a Coeur d’Alene lumber company. He told police he’s worked there for 15 years.
Boyd sued Moore and Beamer in 2007. Moore began serving as his own lawyer in September “due to lack of funds,” according to a letter he wrote in the Kootenai County District Court file.
A five-day jury trial is scheduled for August.
Moore was found dead last week after an overnight manhunt. Before he killed himself, Moore shot and killed Ryan William Taylor, 28, the ex-husband of his pregnant wife.
Taylor had confronted Moore at his Hayden apartment March 9 after hearing from his ex that Moore hit her.
An attorney for the Spokane Valley bar owner accused of killing a bicyclist in a hit and run crash calls the incident “a tragic accident and not a crime.”
Carl Oreskovich appeared with his client, Scott C. Reckord, in Spokane County Superior Court today. Reckord peladed not guilty to charges of vehicular homicide and hit-and run for a March 1 collision that killed 56-year-old David L. Squires. Reckord, the owner of Sullivan Scoreboard, did not comment after the hearing, according to a story by Thomas Clouse.
Squires (pictured at right with his wife, Christy) was riding southbound through the crosswalk of the intersection of Division Street and Sprague Avenue when he was knocked from his bike.Witnesses said Reckord’s silver Dodge pickup then ran Squires over.
A woman and her son then chased Reckord, flashing their lights and honking their horn to get his attention, according to police records. The woman’s husband stayed at the scene to give first aid to Squires. Officers arrested Reckord after he failed a field sobriety test.
“We are just getting started,” said Oreskovich after the short hearing. “The Reckord family extends its sympathies to Mr. Squires’ family. We think this is a tragic accident and not a crime.”
Oreskovich successfully made the same argument when he represented Clifford Helm for the Nov. 1, 2005, crash that killed five children and seriously injured their father, Jeffry Schrock. A jury acquitted Helm of acquitted Helm of vehicular homicide charges in March 2008.
Deputy Spokane County Prosecutor Mary Ann Brady said the felony hit-and-run charge carries between 31 and 41 months in prison if a person with no previous criminal history is found guilty.
Greg Squires, the victim’s brother, said the arraignment Monday was just the first step on a lengthy legal process.
“I think they are just trying to cover for him,” Squires said of Reckord. “He’s just trying to protect himself.”
Past coverage: Family mourns, remembers
Two child rapists classified as sex offenders most likely to re-offend are living as transients in Spokane County, the Sheriff’s Office announced today.
Jeffrey R. Evans, 22, (left) was convicted of second-degree child rape in 2001 for an attack on a 12-year-old female family friend.
Evans also was convicted of indecent liberties with forcible compulsion in 2004. His victim was a 6-year-old male relative, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Clifford R. Sain, 30, (right) was convicted of first-degree child rape and fourth-degree assault with sexual motivation in 1993 for attacks on 7- and 8-year-old male relatives. He was released from prison in December 1998.
Both Evans and Sain are being supervised by the Department of Corrections.
They are not wanted by law enforcement, but they are level 3 sex offenders and the Sheriff’s Office wants the public to be aware of their presence.
Click here for the Spokane County sex offender database.
Employees found $26,000 in the bra of an accused thief booked into Spokane County Jail on Friday.
Lukeisha A. Harris, 24, the only suspect in an accused three-person fraud team who’s been able to post bail, stashed the cash with several bank receipts, according to the Sheriff’s Office. The Seattle-area resident is accused with Corey B. Jones, 25, and Elicionne L. Washington, 23, of stealing thousands of dollars from Spokane banks.
The trio is due in Superior Court this afternoon via video from the jail, where they spent the weekend. Harris posted bail last night, according to jail records.
The three suspects, described by the Sheriff’s Office as a “fraud team that traversed Spokane,” were arrested at the North Pointe branch of Chase Bank after employees at the Washington Trust Bank, 438 E. Hastings Road, reported a “heavyset” woman in black clothes and pink shoes had tried to get money with a stolen credit card.
Harris appears to match the bank employee’s description of the culprit - she’s 6-feet tall and 400 pounds, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Harris and Washington both told different deputies they were Aurora Wright, according to a news release.
“As they dug through a bible for their identification, several pieces of identification fell out,” according to a news release. “The ID’s all had the name of Aurora Wright, but with different photos.”
The trio also had counterfeit Oregon driver’s licenses and cards stolen from six credit companies, the sheriff’s office said. Detectives searched the suspects’s Nissan Altima and motel room at the Comfort Inn on North Division.
Jones and the women also are suspected of taking $8,000 from the Washington Trust Bank at 3810 N. Maple St. One person wold ask for a cash advance with a credit card that wouldn’t work, then provide a phone number to get the advance approved. A coconspirator at that number would provide an authorization number to override the credit card’s inactive status, the sheriff’s office said.
A man with more than 50 criminal convictions who 12 years ago escaped from police headquarters, then mailed back his handcuffs, was denied a furlough from jail Friday to deal with the recent death of his mother.
Fred W. Nolan, Jr., requested a leave from Geiger Corrections Center to help get his late mother’s affairs in order, but Spokane County Superior Court Judge Ellen Kalama Clark ordered he stay behind bars and cited his dozens of felony convictions.
Nolan, 40, is being held on $5,000 bail for burglary and malicious mischief charges. He was arrested in June, accused of break-ins at offices in the Empire Health Services building at 601 W. Fifth Ave. Police found a green Otter Pop popsicle wrapper in the building that was submitted for fingerprints; green liquid was located throughout the offices, according to court records.
Nolan has at least 51 criminal convictions, mostly for theft and burglary, dating back to 1983. (See his record here.)
He’s served five prison sentences, including a three-year stint after he escaped from the Public Safety Building while handcuffed in 1997. The stunt earned him the nickname “Strollin’ Nolan.”
An estranged Spokane couple shut down U.S Highway 95 near Athol today after police say the man held the woman hostage at knife point.
Damien L. Bunch, 27, (right) was arrested after police investigating a crash about 7:15 a.m. found him holding Deanna Lafrombois, 29, at knife point inside a car at milepost 444, the State Police reported.
Police were able to rescue Lafrombois after about 30 minutes spent negotiating with Bunch. Lafrombois was taken to Kootenai Medical Center with knife wounds.
Bunch faces charges of kidnapping, aggravated assault, aggravated battery and possession of methamphetamine. He’s already on probation in Spokane County after pleading guilty to harassment in December. He was credited for 58 days served in jail.
In February, Bunch and Lafrombois petitioned for divorce, according to news archives.
Bunch also has convictions in Spokane for domestic violence harassment and first-degree criminal trespass from 2007.
A man who once said he stole as “to make ends meet” was arrested Friday after sheriff’s deputies said he returned to the scene of a burglary.
Dustin L. Lang, 29, threatened a witness with a knife after being confronted about breaking into a garage at 6500 N. Jensen about 5:50 a.m., according to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.
A tracking dog found the knife and Lang’s abandoned vehicle, but not Lang, the Sheriff’s Office said.
But Lang, a convicted felon, returned to the scene after deputies left, and another witness called 911. Lang was arrested on charges of first-degree burglary and three counts of vehicle prowling, as an outstanding warrant.
Six years ago, Lang told The Spokesman-Review he viewed stealing as his way to make a living.
“If their garage is as big as my house then, damn, they must have insurance. They’ve got all this stuff and I’ve got nothing…I don’t do it because I like to steal, but I’ve got to make ends meet.” Lang said in an article you can read here.
He ended up pleading guilty to a slew of property crimes and serving 90 days in jail, according to news archives. He was sentenced to 22 months in prison in October 2008 after pleading guilty to four counts of second-degree possession of stolen property.
A bald eagle was shot to death near Long Lake last weekend, and the Humane Society of the United States is offering a reward of up to $2,500 for tips that lead to the killer’s conviction.
The bird was found on the south bank of the Long Lake off Long Lake Road the weekend of March 6. Bald eagles are federally protected birds.
Killing them is a federal crime that carries up to a year in prison and fines up to $100,000.
In a prepared statement, Dan Paul, state director of the Humane Society, called the poaching “an affront to wildlife and the laws that protect these animals.”
The Humane Society is offering the reward with the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust. Anyone with information is asked to call the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement at (509) 928-6050.
According to the Humane Society:
- Wildlife officials estimate that for every wild animal killed legally — tens of millions of animals per year — another is killed illegally.
- Every year, thousands of poachers are arrested nationwide; however, it is estimated that only 1 percent to 5 percent of poachers are caught.
A Spokane Valley man was awakened this morning by home-invasion robbers who hit him over the head and broke his finger before stealing prescription medications and other valuables.
The robbers - one who was armed with a knife - remain at large, according to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office. The men are described as white, 5-foot-11, thin and were wearing gray-hooded sweatshirts and gloves. The man with the knife was said to be in his 20s, the other was described as 35 to 40.
The men forced their way into a home at 8600 E. Broadway about 7:50 a.m. and confronted the sleeping homeowner, who is in his 60s, with the knife, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
They fled with the medications, a handgun and gold coins after assaulting the man, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.
A federal judge ruled this morning that the city of Spokane will not be on the hook if a civil suit proceeds against former Spokane Police Officer James “Jay” Olsen, who shot Shonto Pete in the head during a drunken chase in February 2007.
Federal judge Edward F. Shea ruled in favor of a motion brought by Assistant City Attorney Ellen O’Hara seeking to sever the city from the case.
O’Hara argued that Olsen was off duty at the time and never identified himself as a police officer during the Feb. 26, 2007, chase that ended with Olsen shooting Pete in the head. (Pete and Olsen are pictured at left in March 2009. Pete is on the witness stand.)
“I have great sympathy for Mr. Pete and the grievous wrong that Mr. Olsen did to him,” Shea said. “Nevertheless, I grant the city’s motion … Mr. Olsen was not acting under the color of law.”
Read the rest of Thomas Clouse’s story here.
Read past coverage here.
Although a jury last month rejected Kenneth Putnam’s sex abuse allegations against Morning Star Boys’ Ranch, the Catholic Diocese of Spokane had already paid Putnam a settlement worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The award to Putman is among 10 such settlements totaling more than $3 million – ranging from $100,000 to $750,000 – that have been paid through the diocese bankruptcy to men who continue to press lawsuits against Morning Star, its former director the Rev. Joseph Weitensteiner, and other priests and employees associated with the home for troubled boys.
Read the rest of Kevin Graman and John Stucke’s story here.
Spokane County officials say they don’t want to acquire the Pine Lodge Corrections Center at Medical Lake, and it should remain a state prison for women.
State officials are considering closing the prison to save money, and have asked whether local governments want it. County commissioners recently directed their legislative lobbyist to oppose closure of Pine Lodge.
After a tour Wednesday, County Commission Chairman Mark Richard and Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said the minimum-security facility wouldn’t be suitable as a county jail.
OLYMPIA — Convicted cop-killer Lonnie Link does not warrant a lighter sentence for shooting Spokane Police Officer Brian Orchard in 1983, even though he helped federal prosecutors bring down more than two dozen members of a criminal motorcycle gang after he went to prison, a state board said today.
The state Clemency and Pardons Board heard what members agreed was an extraordinary plea to commute Link’s sentence of life without parole to simply life, a move that could allow him to be released some day.
The prosecutor who convicted him, former County Prosecutor Don Brockett, and one of the detectives involved in the case, joined Link’s former defense attorney Mark Vovos in arguing for clemency for Link.
But the current prosecutor, Steve Tucker, joined members of Orchard’s family and other members of the state’s law enforcement community in arguing against it.
Read the rest of Jim Camden’s story here.
A metal bar sharpened into a dagger was found in an inmate’s cell at Geiger Corrections Center this week.
Alan M. Lloyd, 32, is accused of making the weapon out of a metal bar inside his brace, according to court documents. Guards found the item during routine cell checks Tuesday night.
Lloyd appeared in Spokane County Superior Court Thursday on a felony charge of possession of weapon by a prisoner.
His bond was set at $10,000. He’d been at Geiger on $15,000 bond for a residential burglary charge from January.
Police have identified a person of interest in the New Year's Day rape of a teen girl near the Northtown Mall.
Detectives obtained a DNA swab from the 21-year-old Spokane man Monday, according to a search warrant filed in Spokane County District Court.
The man matches a description of the assailant and works near the crime scene, according to the search warrant.
The attack occurred about 4 p.m. in a park at North Mayfair Street and East Walton Avenue on Jan. 1. The 16-year-old victim said she and her attacker talked for about 20 minutes before the assault, and the man told her he'd never assaulted anyone before, according to the search warrant.
Tipsters named several people after seeing a police sketch of the suspect. DNA eliminated several people, but the 21-year-old man didn't have DNA on file.
The man's lawyer was present when police obtained the DNA swab Monday about 11:30 a.m.
(AP) A Moscow man whose lawyer blamed caffeine-induced psychosis for alleged hit-and-run crashes at Washington State University in December has been released from a hospital and will face trial.
Dan Noble, 31, (left) has been declared fit to stand trial by doctors at Eastern State Hospital, said Whitman County Prosecutor Denis Tracy.
He is charged with two felony counts of vehicular assault, two felony counts of hit and run and misdemeanor resisting arrest after being arrested in December.
Drivers on the highway between Moscow and Pullman reported Noble’s car driving erratically in the westbound lanes Monday morning, according to previously published reports.
Noble then turned onto Stadium Way, the main street through the WSU campus, where he allegedly struck students Hogun Hahm, 23, of Pullman, and Neil Waldbjorn, 19, of Malaga, Wash., in crosswalks about a block apart, according to the Associated Press. Both pedestrians suffered a broken leg and other injuries.
Noble then reportedly stopped and exited the vehicle at the intersection of Stadium Way and Grimes Way, about 175 yards from the second victim.
When WSU police approached him, Noble became “argumentative, incoherent, and resistive,” documents said. Officers used a Taser to subdue him.
Noble’s arraignment is set for April 9, court records show.
Noble’s attorney, Mark Moorer, has previously said his client was suffering from caffeine-induced psychosis brought on by too much coffee and energy drinks.
Past coverage: Lawyer: Blame it on the caffeine
Two men described as “hiding behind the medical marijuana law” were arrested today during a raid at a home in north Spokane.
Robert P. Thompson, 24, and Eric G. Franklin, 31, had four forged medical marijuana provider forms posted near 105 marijuana plants when detectives raided the home today, according to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.
Those plants were seized, along with several hundred dollars in cash.
The growing operation had been at the home at 1527 E. Rockwell for two years but wasn’t discovered until March 1, when someone smelled marijuana wafting from the home, according to a news release.
Thompson and Franklin were selling the marijuana in the Everett area, detectives said.
The men were booked into Spokane County Jail on one count each of manufacturing a controlled substance.
Voters approved medical marijuana in 1998, and the state Legislature set possession limits in 2008 at a pound and a half per person or 15 plants.
The law also allows a person to provide medical marijuana to one authorized patient “at any one time.” Prosecutors and police say that means providers can have no more than 15 plants; sellers and dispensaries argue the wording allows them to grow 15 plants for each patient.
The first police raid of a Washington medical marijuana dispensary occurred in Spokane last fall when police arrested the owners of the dispensary Change on drug dealing charges. Scott Q. Shupe and Christopher P. Stevens pleaded not guilty to the charges in January.
Past coverage of medical marijuana in Washington:
David Squires had been riding his bike for years. He didn’t drive, and his 18-speed bicycle was the longtime electrician’s way of getting around Spokane.
Squires, 56, (pictured with his wife, Christy, in the beginning of their 19-year relationship) was riding that bike when he was struck by a car and killed as he crossed Sprague Avenue while southbound on Division Street on March 1.
Now, after more than a week of grief, his family is hoping to share good memories of a man known for his sense of humor, storytelling and generosity.
A celebration of life will take place Friday at Mama’s Thai Lounge in Spokane Valley, where Squires’ stepdaughter, Alicia Fowler, works.
“I just want to be able to laugh about the good times and not cry about the bad times,” said Fowler, pictured above. “Dave wouldn’t want us to be sad.”
Friends sometimes called Squires, a father of six, “Dave, Dave, the electrical slave” because of his work ethic, said Fowler, 24.
Read the rest of my story here.
When Ryan William Taylor showed up at a Hayden apartment Tuesday afternoon, he was there to confront the husband of his ex-wife – a man he believed had been abusing her.
But Taylor, 28, (pictured above with his daughters) never left the property alive. The man he confronted fired four rounds at Taylor, family members say, one striking him in the back of the head.
A search team from Kootenai and Spokane counties found the suspected gunman, Chad Lee Moore, (right) dead from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound Wednesday morning east of Hayden Lake.
After an overnight manhunt, searchers found Moore’s pickup truck, which had been burned, before spotting his body on a logging road about one mile north of Triangle 7 Road and Hayden Creek Road.
Moore, 35, had a handgun and a military-style rifle with several ammo clips, said Maj. Dan Mattos of the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department.
“One conclusion drawn is that perhaps he was lying in wait for police, but we’ll never know because he took his own life,” Mattos said. Investigators believe he set fire to the truck (right) before walking down the road and shooting himself.
Moore’s wife, Amber Kern, previously was married to Taylor. Nine months pregnant with Moore’s baby, Kern was taken to a hospital Wednesday but was not expected to give birth immediately, said Taylor’s mother, Barbara Taylor.
Mattos said Moore and Ryan Taylor had ongoing problems.
Barbara Taylor said Kern had called her Tuesday and said Moore had hit her after asking if she’d been talking to Ryan Taylor on the phone.
Taylor was out on a birthday shopping trip with his girlfriend and daughter, Jordan, who turns 12 Friday.
The three stopped by Moore and Kern’s apartment at 10102 N. Government Way, where Taylor found Moore armed with a loaded handgun, Barbara Taylor said.
Read the rest of my story here.
When federal agents arrived at the Truth Ministries homeless shelter last week, Director Marty McKinney was surprised to learn of a guest wanted on a $3 million rape warrant out of California.
Imagine how he felt the next day when the suspect, a convicted felon facing life in prison under California’s three-strikes law, showed up at the shelter on East Sprague again, looking for a place to crash.
“I was pretty ticked,” McKinney said. “They didn’t want this guy to ever get loose again.”
Brian Lee Hudson, 43, (right) was set free when he made his first appearance in Spokane County Superior Court because necessary paperwork hadn’t arrived from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s office in Sacramento, Calif.
It was the second time paperwork problems had forced the convicted felon, accused with another man of raping three teenage girls in Pasadena last year, to be released into the Spokane community.
Read the rest of my story here.
OLYMPIA — Gov. Chris Gregoire on Wednesday signed into law a measure that makes Washington the second state in the nation to have a law granting some legal immunity to people who call to report a drug overdose.
The measure, passed by the Legislature last month, takes effect in June. New Mexico has had a similar law since 2007.
Under the measure, people who seek help for someone suffering a drug overdose would not face prosecution for possession of drugs, but the person could still be charged with the manufacturing or sale of drugs. The measure also exempts the person suffering the overdose from prosecution, and anyone for whom the evidence is gained only because medical assistance was called.
“We’re going to save lives,” Rep. Roger Goodman, D-Kirkland, told Senate sponsor, Sen. Rosa Franklin, D-Tacoma, after the bill signing.
A cross-state manhunt is underway for the suspect in a fatal shooting in Hayden today.
The suspect, Chad Lee Moore, 35, (left) was last seen northbound on Government Way in a blue Toyota pickup with a white stripe, Idaho license plate K433586. He is believed to be armed and dangerous.
The victim, 28-year-old Ryan William Taylor, of Coeur d’Alene, was found near the front door of an apartment building at 10102 N. Government Way, at 2:50 p.m.
He died at Kootenai Medical Center, Lt. Stuart Miller said. Miller said the victim and Moore knew knew each other but provided no other details.
The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office dispatched its helicopter about 6:30 p.m. to assist in the manhunt, which extended across state lines.
Miller said authorities have sent out bulletins to all law enforcement, including the Border Patrol in the region, and in Idaho, Washington and Montana.
Moore is 5 feet 6 inches tall, and weighs 195 pounds. He is wearing camouflage clothing and Carhartts overalls.
If anyone sees him or knows where he might be, call 911 immediately.
A teenager will spend about five years in prison for a violent home invasion robbery last fall that targeted the mother of his alleged accomplice’s child.
Cocaine addiction drove Darius D. Toussiant, 18, to join a group of friends in a Nov. 16 attack that led to a SWAT team standoff at an apartment the next day, said his public defender, Kari Reardon.
Toussiant apologized for what he called “stupid mistakes” before being sentenced Tuesday to 66 months in prison.
“It’s painful to sentence someone your age to prison, but what you did was pretty bad, pretty horrifying,” said Spokane County Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno. Moreno approved a plea deal hatched by Reardon and Deputy Prosecutor Mark Cipolla that convicted Toussiant of first-degree burglary and conspiracy to commit first-degree robbery and dismissed one count of first-degree robbery.
The sentence carries a three-year enhancement because a firearm was used. Moreno ordered Toussiant, a high school dropout, to earn his GED in prison and attend drug addiction counseling if available.
His father, Kent Toussiant, told Moreno he’ll be there to support the teen.
“I feel he is ready to rehabilitate and take a stronger path. It’s going to be up to him,” he said.
Toussiant and his accomplices burst into the East Mansfield Avenue apartment of Sara Mattingly in November looking for drugs that weren’t there, prosecutors said Tuesday.
They left with electronics after forcing Mattingly into a laundry closet at gunpoint as her young child slept, according to court documents. Detectives said Toussiant was “nicer” than his accomplices during the home invasion and urged them not to go into the child’s room, Reardon said.
Along with robbery and burglary charges, Jeremiah A. Smith, also known as Glen A. Akers, 20, also is accused of hitting Mattingly in the head with a handgun. He’s in jail awaiting trial.
Mattingly’s ex-boyfriend, 24-year-old Artez L. Woodard, whom she’d taken out a restraining order against a week earlier, also is in jail. A fourth suspect, 22-year-old Vatsana Moungkhoth, was sentenced to 22 months in prison Monday for conspiracy to commit first-degree robbery. Police say she drove Toussiant and Akers to Mattingly’s apartment.
A Spokane man accused of assaulting his infant daughter pleaded not guilty to the charge Tuesday.
Daniel S. O’Brien, 23, was arrested Feb. 10 after he and his girlfriend, Jordan Calvert, brought their 2-month-old daughter, Tristan, to a Spokane hospital with bruises and fractured bones, including a broken rib and fractured skull.
O’Brien reportedly admitted to causing the girl’s injuries and said he had mental problems that caused him to blackout when angry. He told police he’d sought mental health services but couldn’t pay because he didn’t have insurance, according to court documents.
O’Brien is in Spokane County Jail on $50,000 bail for one count first-degree assault of a child. His next court date is in April.
A man who donned a black wig to rob two Spokane pharmacies of OxyContin last year donned a jail jumpsuit today after he was sentenced to about a year in prison.
Dustin J. Rockstrom, 26, was taken into custody after pleading guilty to two counts of second-degree robbery. He was sentenced to 13 months in prison and ordered to seek drug addiction treatment.
Rockstrom wore a black wig (pictured above) when he robbed the Shopko at 4515 S. Regal St on Aug. 24, then the Rite Aid across the street on Sept. 5.
Police found that wig when they raided in apartment rented by Rockstrom’s alleged getaway driver, Aaron M. Weyrauch, 28. Weyrauch is in jail awaiting trial. Rockstrom had been out on bond.
Weyrauch’s former roommate, Dalen J. McMillon, 27, is wanted on drug dealing charges connected to an OxyContin ring police believe was operating out of their apartment at 903 S. Adams.
Anyone with information on McMillon’s location is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.
BALTIMORE (AP) — Prosecutors in former Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon’s perjury case are putting the spoils of their efforts on eBay.
An Xbox 360 video game console seized during a raid on
State Prosecutor Robert Rohrbaugh says he plans to post
A church pastor helped detectives identify a suspect in a robbery Monday night at a North Idaho pharmacy.
Egan B. Logan IV, 39, of Twin Lakes, was arrested today on charges of robbery and possession of a controlled substance.
Detectives say demanded anxiety medicine from the Hayden Walgreens about 8:45 p.m. Monday, then left $300 on the counter before fleeing with the drug.
The 100 pills of Adderall were valued at $550, according to the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department.
The pharmacist told detectives the robber said “I guess I will have to rob you” when she said she couldn’t give him the drug without a prescription.
A local church pastor contacted the Sheriff’s Department today and said she’d had contact with a possible suspect. Detectives met Logan at the Rathdrum Police Department, where he reportedly admitted to the robbery.
He’s in custody at the Kootenai County Jail and is due in court Wednesday.
A would-be customer without a prescription demanded anxiety medicine from a North Idaho pharmacy Monday night, then left money on the counter before fleeing with the drug.
The man asked a pharmacist at Walgreens, 260 W. Honeysuckle Ave. in Hayden, for Adderall about 8:45 p.m., then told the woman “I guess I will have to rob you” when she said she couldn’t give him the drug without a prescription, according to the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department.
The man left with about 100, 30 mg pills valued at $550, according to the Sheriff’s Department, after placing $300 on the counter.
The robber did not display a weapon, and the pharmacist described him as “calm” to deputies, according to a report.
The man is described as white with a mustache, in his mid- to late-40s with a white and red baseball hat, a tan Carhart jacket, a green shirt, blue jeans and white shoes. He appeared 5-foot-9 to 5-foot11, about 220 pounds.
The man left in a black 4-door Toyota, possibly an Avalon or Camry, with a rear spoiler.
The same Walgreens was robbed of OxyContin Sept. 30. Read about it here.
Carole DeLeon, the foster mother blamed for starving Tyler DeLeon to death, gets out of prison Wednesday after serving about half of the sentence she received in a 2007 plea agreement.
DeLeon, 55, has lost all parental rights of the other adopted and foster children who were in her care.
And she did not contest a motion brought by attorneys to make sure she receives no part of a settlement with the state concerning its failure to protect Tyler.
But the legal fight over who failed Tyler is far from over.
“I truly don’t believe she could spend enough time. But no time frame from a judge or jury could ever bring Tyler back,” said Jerry Taylor, who recently retired from the Stevens County Sheriff’s Office and who led the DeLeon investigation. “I believe we did the best we could about getting her stopped.”
DeLeon and her attorney, Carl Oreskovich, are pictured above at her sentencing in July 2007.
Read the rest of Tom Clouse’s story here.
Read past coverage here.
Witnesses to Spokane’s only homicide this year share a common theme, police say: All were there, but all say they know nothing about the early morning shooting that left a man dead in an alley.
Six weeks after John S. “Q” Williams, 38, was killed outside a birthday celebration attended by Atlantic Drive Crips gang members, four men have been charged with drug or gun crimes connected to the shooting, but police haven’t identified the killer.
“This is not a simple investigation,” said Jennifer DeRuwe, spokeswoman for the Spokane Police Department.
Those arrested include Eric Burton Jr., (right) and Antonio E. Cook, Jr. (left).
A similar gang-related homicide in 2007 ended in an unusual plea deal that gave the alleged shooter credit for about a year served in the county jail and a conviction for manslaughter after a jury couldn’t reach a verdict. (Read about here.)
Details in newly filed court documents reveal similar problems for investigators trying to solve the city’s latest gang-related homicide: uncooperative witnesses who have criminal backgrounds, gang loyalties, a disdain for police and a fear of retaliation.
Read the rest of my story here.
Past coverage: Police find gun used in slaying
A main witness against a Spokane Valley man accused of running a check fraud ring agreed to cooperate with police after ending a sexual relationship with the suspect and his wife, according to court documents.
The woman told police she used methamphetamine with Ronald R. Foreman and his wife while helping with a large fraud that police say Foreman operated from his home.
Now Foreman, 43, faces drug charges as well as a charge of leading organized crime. A SWAT team raided his home at 13718 E. 21st Ave. on Thursday evening.
Foreman, who called the allegations “preposterous” in a court appearance last week, appeared in Spokane County Superior Court on Monday on a charge of delivery of a controlled substance.
Read the rest of my story in tomorrow’s Spokesman-Review.
A gunman pushed his way into an elderly man’s home Sunday evening, KHQ reported today.
Nicholas Lawson, 21, was arrested after a 20-minute standoff with police at Fred Megerth’s Spokane home that began about 7 p.m. Lawson claimed to have been chased and asked Megerth (left, picture courtesy KHQ) to call police, according to KHQ.
“Throughout the entire ordeal Megerth said the thing what worried him the most was that a gun battle would break out between Lawson and his supposed pursuers,” KHQ reported. “Fortunately, no one, besides police, came looking for him.”
Read more and view an interview with Megerth at KHQ.com.
A Missoula man is accused of threatening to kill a Spokane judge with the state Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals.
Brian G. Corntassel, 49, appeared in Superior Court Monday on one felony charge of intimidating a judge for threats allegedly made to Judge John D. Fairley.
Fairley oversaw the appeal of four claims that Corntassell had filed with the state Department of Labor and Industries.
A staff member with Gov. Christine Gregoire’s office said in December Corntassell had told her in a phone call that “he was going to put a bullet in the head of a judge,” according to court documents.
On Jan. 4, Corntassel reportedly told another state employee that Fairley was crooked and he wanted to shoot him, then pin a complaint letter to his chest, according to court documents.
Corntassel apologized to an investigators and said his threats weren’t serious, police said. He was booked into jail Friday on a $50,000 warrant after being arrested in Montana.
A 22-year-old Spokane man will serve more than six years in prison for raping a woman more than a year ago.
Brandon S. Coristine was sentenced to 78 months in prison last week after a jury of five women and seven men convicted him Jan. 19 of second-degree rape.
Coristine raped a woman who was passed out drunk at his home at 2304 W. Broadway Ave. on Dec. 7, 2008.
The woman was renting a room at the home, according to court documents.
Charges were filed on Aug. 31, after the Washington State Patrol crime lab confirmed Coristine’s DNA, according to court documents.
Spokane County Superior Court Judge Michael Price, who presided over the four-day jury trial, sentenced Coristine last Wednesday.
Coristine was credited for 94 days served in Spokane County Jail and was ordered to pay $250 restitution.
A Grant County teenager was killed Sunday in a drive-by shooting that also injured another boy in the ankle.
Carlos D. Leyva, 17, of Beverly, was shot to death about 6:18 p.m. on a road about 5 miles north of Mattawa. Investigators haven’t identified his killer but say the shooting appears to be connected to a gold or tan Nissan-type vehicle.
An unknown number of people inside that vehicle argued with Leyva and two other boys before the shooting in the 1700 block of Road T.5 SW, according to the Grant County Sheriff’s Office.
The three boys were walking between Mattawa and Beverly when the shooting occurred.
The second victim was treated and released at Samaritan Hospital in Moses Lake. The third boy was not injured.
Neither witness is cooperating with investigators, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Investigators aren’t sure if the shooting is part of the increase in gang violence the county has seen over the last few years, said Undersheriff John Turley.
Read about a recent homicide in Grant County, a triple murder in December: Man told police he killed for revenge
Police are warning of a scam targeting the elderly after a conman nearly bilked an 89-year-old Spokane Valley woman out of $2,500 last week.
The man called and said he was reviewing employees at a Spokane financial institution “to see if they were handling her account correctly,” according to the Spokane Valley Police Department.
The man asked for her balance, then asked her to deliver a $2,500 check to a man named “Meyers” at a nearby grocery store.
“The intended-victim said she was preparing to leave with the check when it occurred to her to call the bank,” according to a news release. “Employees there quickly squelched the attempted fraud.”
Another woman last month told police she nearly sent a man posing as her grandson money for bail in Canada before realizing it was a con. (Read a story on that scam here.)
People with elderly parents are encouraged to talk to them about potential frauds. Thieves may scan obituaries seeking elder widows or widowers to target.
“Persons in their 70s and older grew up in an age where people were more trusting in others, and the elderly frequently fall prey to this type of con,” Sgt Dave Reagan said in a news release.
A convicted methamphetamine maker accused of masterminding a multi-state check fraud ring that bilked Spokane businesses out of thousands of dollars denies the allegations
“I understand what they’re accusing me of,” said Ronald R. Foreman in Spokane County Superior Court Friday. “I just think it’s preposterous.”
The Spokane Valley man was arrested outside his surveillance camera-equipped home at 13718 E. 21st Ave. Thursday evening as the SWAT team prepared for a raid triggered by what detectives say is a massive financial fraud.
Police think Foreman, 43, manufactured counterfeit checks and identifications to support an expensive lifestyle and buy meth, according to the Spokane Valley Police Department.
More arrests are expected as police continue to investigate up to a dozen people who may have been working for Foreman, including a man jailed last month after a bail bondsman told police he’d threatened him with a gun.
George W. Butrick, 32, is charged with forgery for a fraudulent check cashed Oct. 29, according to court documents. Butrick told police Foreman gave him the check in exchange for tires and that Foreman was known to make fake checks and IDs.
Read the rest of my story here.
Read more about Butrick: Gunman threatens bail bond employee
A Colbert-area man was arrested Thursday evening at home after Spokane County sheriff’s deputies traced the registration of a car whose driver had been chased by deputies earlier in the evening.
Bryce Kottke, 20, was booked into Spokane County Jail for reckless driving and attempting to elude a police vehicle.
About 10 p.m., deputies spotted a Honda Civic speeding on Hawthorne Road near the Newport Highway and attempted to catch the driver, who then took the deputies on a chase to Hillyard and then north on Market Street where another deputy had laid down “stop sticks” at Market and Freya Street to flatten the vehicle tires.
The chase was discontinued, but deputies later found the car abandoned near Mount Spokane Park Drive and Market. A check of the registration led deputies to Kottke’s home, where he was arrested after jumping over a neighbor’s fence to gain access to his residence.
He had keys for the Honda in his pocket, according to sheriff’s Sgt. Dave Reagan.
Kottke appeared in Superior Court today, where his brother told Judge Annette Plese that deputies searched his yard without a warrant.
“There are a couple that are harassing him,” he said.
Neighbors saw the carnage firsthand.
Older dogs ganged up on younger dogs. Dogs mauled each other regularly, sometimes leading to death.
This scene, detailed over three days of testimony in a Stevens County courtroom, led to a Deer Park woman’s recent conviction on four charges that sent her to jail for more than a year.
On Thursday, as Pam Deskins served her sixth day in the Stevens County Jail, animal control officers traveled to her Wallbridge Road property to capture the last of dozens of dogs that roamed a 3-acre pen described in court as “a killing yard,” said Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen.
“Pam Deskins didn’t beat or whip or starve these animals, but she kept them in such a way that they could really hurt each other,” Rasmussen said. “And they did.”
Read the rest of my story here.
A multi-state check fraud ring police say was masterminded by a convicted methamphetamine maker led to the SWAT-team arrest of the suspect Thursday night.
Ronald R. Foreman, 43, is to appear in Superior Court today on one charge of leading organized crime via video feed from the jail and could face an additional felony for allegedly possessing methamphetamine, police said today.
Foreman is thought to be the ringleader of up to a dozen people who, since December, have been writing fraudulent checks in Washington, Idaho and Oregon, police said. More arrests are expected.
Court records show he was arrested on similar charges two months ago, as well as bank robbery charges in 2008. The robbery charges were dropped after he pleaded guilty to eight counts of riot, according to news archives. In 2003, he was sentenced to 29 months in prison for manufacturing methamphetamine.
Foreman surrendered peacefully Thursday about 6 p.m. as the SWAT team was preparing to enter his home at 13718 E. 21st Ave.
Detectives think Foreman manufactured counterfeit check and identifications “which were used by confederates to bilk banks and businesses out of thousands of dollars in cash and merchandise,” according to a news release. Checking account numbers often were stolen from outgoing mail at residential and roadside mailboxes, police said.
“Victim businesses included Leo’s Studio, Our Golden Flax, Vorpahl-Wing Securities and Sterling Savings,” the news release said. “Some checks were produced to look like payroll checks while other phony checks were used to purchase merchandise.”
Investigators also seized 15 computer hard drives, a safe, at least 13 laptop computers, a pair of flat-screen televisions and other computer components from Foreman’s home Thursday, which was wired with surveillance cameras.
Authorities found ingredients that could be used to make explosives at a building in Spangle, but no evidence was found that Foreman intended to do so and the substances were not seized, police said.
Leading organized crime carries a hefty sentence. Read about a conviction that sent a woman to prison for 12 years here.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — A monkey that has eluded capture in the Tampa Bay area for more than a year has again escaped from Florida wildlife officials.
Authorities were called to a neighborhood in St. Petersburg on Wednesday when the rhesus macaque monkey was spotted.
It was twice hit with tranquilizer darts, but still got away by ducking behind a drug store and a church.
Wildlife rehabilitator Vernon Yates says the tranquilizers don’t appear to affect the animal, though officials have increased the dosage each time they’ve used the drug on the monkey.
Yates says the monkey is smart, even stopping to check traffic before crossing a busy street.
Officials didn’t say how the monkey got loose. They say it isn’t considered a threat to humans.
The woman accused of trying to bring a loaded gun into the Spokane County Courthouse said she never meant to harm anyone and simply forgot she had the weapon with her.
“I would never purposely take a weapon into a courthouse,” said Stacey L. Atkins, 22. “That would just be dumb.”
Atkins was cited for two misdemeanors Thursday and released after security found the Bersa .380-caliber semi-automatic pistol in her purse as it passed through the X-ray machine on the north side of the courthouse.
“The lady up there was like ‘what is that?’” Atkins said. “As soon as she said that, I knew I left my gun in there..I wasn’t planning on doing harm.”
Atkins said she was at the courthouse to get a restraining order. The gun’s magazine was loaded, but there was no bullet in the chamber, according to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.
Weapons are prohibited inside the courthouse.
Detectives think the gunman who robbed a Northwest Boulevard bank last month also robbed a bank in December, the Spokane Police Department announced today.
Photos released today show a masked man in a red hooded coat with black trim robbing the Sterling Savings Bank, 3000 S. Grand Ave., at gunpoint Dec. 22 (top).
The photo to the left is from the Feb. 13 robbery at Chase Bank, 2215 Northwest Boulevard. Police think it’s the same guy but in a different coat.
The robber is described as white with a medium build, 5-foot-10 to 6-feet tall. Anyone with information on a possible suspect is asked to call Detective Chet Gilmore at (509) 622-5874.
The bicyclist killed Monday in downtown Spokane was an electrician and father of six known for his sense of humor.
David L. Squires, 56, was known as “The Sheik” at his electrician job according to his obituary.
His family said Wednesday they’re not ready to talk about him. “It’s still just too tragic,” said his wife of 19 years, Christy.
His obituary described Squires as a 1971 graduate of North Central High School with a great sense of humor and “a rare ability to capture your imagination with his story telling.”
“He lived an honest and simple life, with an open and generous heart,” his family wrote.
Squires was killed in what police describe as a drunken hit-and-run crash that led to the arrest of a Spokane Valley bar owner, Scott C. Reckord, 49.
Reckord posted $50,000 bond Tuesday after appearing in Spokane County Superior Court on charges of vehicular homicide and felony hit and run.
Reckord was arrested Monday night, accused of hitting Squires at Division Street and Sprague Avenue about 6:40 p.m.
Police said Reckord was driving a silver Dodge pickup north on one-way Division when turned left to go west on Sprague and collided with Squires in a crosswalk. Squires was knocked from his bicycle, then run over by the truck witnesses told police.
Witnesses told police the light was green for the northbound Division Street traffic, according to court documents. Reckord was arrested after police said he failed sobriety tests.
He’d returned to the scene after a driver, Bobby Curtis, and her husband, Jeffrey Curtis, followed him westbound on Sprague, flashing their lights and honking their horn to try to get his attention.
Bobby Curtis “confronted the defendant when they got back to the scene and he denied realizing he had hit anything,” according to court documents.
Squires was pronounced dead at a downtown hospital from skull fractures caused by blunt impact to the head, according to the Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Reckord owns Sullivan Scoreboard and is a partner in the LLC that owns Scotty’s Bar and Grill.
Spokane attorney Mike Ormsby was nominated Wednesday to be the next U.S. attorney for Eastern Washington.
The White House announced that Ormsby, a partner at K & L Gates LLP who works with local governments and public entities on municipal finance matters, is being nominated to replace James McDevitt, who has held the job since early in George W. Bush’s administration. McDevitt and Ormsby once worked together at the predecessor of K & L Gates.
“I am very excited about the possibility of public service,” Ormsby, 53, said Wednesday afternoon after receiving official notification from the White House.
Read the rest of Jim Camden’s story here.
A Spokane County Sheriff’s lieutenant arrested after an early-morning rollover crash was legally drunk when he was driving, according to newly filed court documents.
Stephen P. Jones, 53, was charged this week with drunken driving for the Jan. 8 crash in Liberty Lake.
A summons filed Wednesday gives him 14 days to appear in Spokane County District Court or an arrest warrant will be issued.
Blood tests put Jones’ blood-alcohol content at .17, more than twice the legal limit for driving.
Read the rest of my story here.
An off-duty Spokane police officer is to credit for finding a stolen vehicle Tuesday - the ninth stolen car he’s recovered in the past five days.
Officer Glenn Bartlett was on his way home when he spotted a black Nissan Pathfinder reported stolen earlier in the day. The officer followed the car to the Shadle Wal-Mart parking lot, with the assistance of Sgt. Dan Torok, who was also off duty.
On-duty officers responded and arrested Christal N. Helsley, 36. The Pathfinder was one of several cars reported stolen near East 12th Avenue and Ivory St. since Feb. 25.
Helsley appeared in Superior Court today on one count of possession of a stolen motor vehicle. She remains in jail.
Bartlett (pictured above in November) is one of several officers who have automatic license plate readers in their patrol cars to help locate stolen vehicles.
Read more about the device in this story: Vehicle thefts rise sharply.
A longtime felon will serve about two years in prison for a rash of ATM thefts in early 2009 that the court ruled was driven by his drug addiction.
Keith G. Simpson, 44, was sentenced to 25 months in prison after pleading guilty to five counts of first-degree theft and one count of conspiracy to commit second-degree burglary.
The plea deal approved Tuesday mandates drug treatment in prison and dropped 15 additional burglary, theft and malicious mischief charges.
Simpson already is serving 27 months for various property crimes.
The charges are connected to a January 2009 crime spree in which Simpson and his alleged accomplice, Christopher S. Carden, crashed vehicles into storefronts, then towed away the expensive ATMs and looted them of thousands of dollars in cash. Carden, 36, is in jail awaiting trial.
Along with Simpson and Carden, Mychal L. Wahl, 20, is charged with three counts of first-degree theft for alleged ATM heists at Five Mile Heights Pizza and the Double Dribble Tavern.
Tips, fingerprints, surveillance photos and detective work led investigators to identify the suspects, documents show.
When police showed Simpson a surveillance photo from one of the heists and asked him who was in it, he said, according to court documents:”That looks like me. That looks a lot like me!”
Simpson’s prior convictions include possession of and trafficking of stolen property, possession of burglary tools, first- and second-degree theft, city theft, identity theft, second-degree burglary, DUI and probation violations, according to Crime Stoppers.
Read more about ATM thefts here.
Two men held another man at gunpoint in his Spokane apartment last night while demanding drugs, according to the Spokane Police Department.
Now the SWAT team is looking for the suspects, Taveus M. Brown (left), 30; and Wesley I. Veazie (right), 22. The SWAT team searched a home at 1921 E. 4th Ave. about 4 p.m. today but didn’t find them. Police say Brown lives there with a woman, who was arrested today. Officers then shot at least three rounds of tear gas into the home before discovering the home empty.
Brown and Veazie are accused of bursting into the victim’s apartment at 2500 E. South Riverton about 8:15 p.m. Tuesday.
The men face charges of first-degree kidnapping and first-degree burglary.
Brown’s extensive criminal history includes convictions for conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance, theft, riot and second degree unlawful possession of a firearm.
Veazie has convictions for making a false statement, fourth-degree assault, obstructing an officer, conspiracy to possession of a controlled substance, theft, riot and second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm
The former roommate of a man charged with robbing two pharmacies for OxyContin last fall is accused of selling the drug but hasn’t been located by police.
Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that help arrest Dalen J. McMillon, 27.
McMillon (right) is wanted on two counts of delivery of a controlled substance for alleged transactions with a confidential informant on Sept. 8 and Sept. 10. Charges were filed Jan. 28; Crime Stoppers issued a reward for his capture on Monday.
McMillon was with Aaron M. Weyrauch, 28, and Dustin J. Rockstrom, 27, when officers arrested them Sept. 15 on robbery charges for OxyContin heists Aug. 24 at the Shopko at 4515 S. Regal St, and Sept. 5 at the Rite Aid across the street, 4514 S. Regal St.
Police found a wig thought to have been worn by Rockstrom in the robberies in an apartment McMillon and Weyrauch shared at 903 S. Adams, along with pills, drug paraphernalia and suspected heroin, according to court documents.
Weyrauch is in jail; Rockstrom is out on $30,000 bond.
Anyone with information on McMillon’s location is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS, or submit tips online here.
Spokane Valley police are asking for help locating a dementia patient missing from Sunshine House at 10412 E. Ninth since 2 p.m. Tuesday.
Robert D. Harris may have suffered a stroke some time in the past. He left the care center, located at 10412 East Ninth Ave., on foot about 2:20 p.m. Tuesday and has not been seen since, according to a news release.
Police described Harris as a “dumpster diver” who frequents the area of Sprague and University.
“His picture has been circulated through the business community there and everyone knows him, but no one has seen him today,” according to the news release. “Harris has disappeared for several weeks in the past, and eventually showed up emaciated and dehydrated. It may be that he simply forgets how to get back to Sunshine House.”
Harris possibly was wearing green sweatpants, but otherwise should be dressed as he is depicted in the photo.
Anyone with information about his whereabouts is asked to call 911 or Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.
A Spokane woman was arrested today after she tried to bring a loaded gun to a court hearing on a domestic violence charge.
Stacey L. Atkins, 22, was cited for two misdemeanor and released after security at the Spokane County Courthouse founded the Bersa .380-caliber semi-automatic pistol in her purse as it passed through the x-ray machine on the north side of the courthouse.
The gun’s magazine was loaded, but there was no bullet in the chamber, according to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.
Weapons are prohibited inside the courthouse.
Atkins was cited for possession of a concealed dangerous weapon and carrying a weapon in a prohibited place. She was released after she promised to appear in court, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for information that leads to the arrest of a man suspected in a recent pair of residential burglaries.
Marcus R. Jolly, 27, is wanted for possession of a stolen motor vehicle.
He was named as a burglary suspect last week after his alleged accomplice, Anthony T. Falasco, 28, was arrested with a Mitsubishi Outlander stolen from 12000 block of East 24th Avenue, according to Spokane Valley police.
The men also are accused of stealing a Dodge Durango and “cleaning out” a home in the 11100 block of East 22nd Avenue, police said.
Police found an illegal shotgun, a pipe bomb and more stolen property at an apartment on South Havana Street Friday night where they’d heard Jolly was staying.
But Jolly wasn’t there, and Crime Stoppers today announced a reward for tips on his location.
Jolly’s11-year Spokane County criminal history includes convictions for third-degree theft, first-degree theft, second-degree identity theft, first and second-degree possession of stolen property and second-degree taking a motor vehicle without owner’s permission., according to Crime Stoppers. His last known address was 1328 E. Rich Ave.
Anyone with information about Jolly’s asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS, or submit tips online here.
Child molester Ronald Reo Timm should be locked up indefinitely because he’s a predator who poses a danger to society, a Spokane jury decided today.
Assistant Attorney General Tricia Boerger gave the state’s final argument Tuesday before the jury, made up of nine men and three women, began deliberating the future of the 59-year-old sex offender.
Timm was convicted in 1989 of statutory rape and then again in 1996 for first-degree rape of a child. While in prison, Timm told a counselor that he molested 24 children, all ages between 3 and 7.
“He is a predator,” Boerger said of Timm. “He preys on young girls to satisfy his sexual desires.”
Read the rest of Thomas Clouse’s story here.
Police are still looking for a man who fired a shot through a Spokane Valley apartment wall last weekend, striking a post of the bed where a 3-year-old girl was sleeping.
A man called police at 10:25 p.m. Saturday and said someone was shooting at his apartment, 15917 E. Sprague Ave., from the parking lot below. A woman found the bullet when she pulled back her daughter’s blankets to check on her after the shooting and the bullet fell to the floor, according to the Spokane Valley Police Department.
Officers found a group of people standing on an upper landing and two bullet casings on the ground in front of them. The caller said he and a friend had been playing cards in another part of the complex and were walking home when they were confronted by two men demanding to know why he had called police about noise.
One of the men, identified only as “Joe,” pulled what appeared to be a gun out of the waistband of his pants, according to police. The caller said he retreated inside, then heard the man slide the action of what sounded like a semi-automatic pistol before shots were fired into his wall.
One of the bullets passed through the exterior wall about 3 feet off the floor, striking a metal bed post and landing on the blankets covering the toddler, police said.
Joe is described as a white and in his late 20s, 6 feet tall and thin. He possibly was left handed and wore a white baseball cap with a dark logo. He had a spider’s web tattoo on his neck.
Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.
Meghann returns later this week.
Meantime, here’s an Associated Press story that’s been getting a lot of attention online, and in the social media networks:
MONTESANO, Wash. (AP) —
An Elma man was killed by accidentally urinating on a downed power line
after a one-car crash near Montesano. Grays Harbor County
sheriff’s Deputy Dave Pimentel (PIM’-en-tel) said Monday that
50-year-old Roy Messenger was not seriously hurt after he collided with
a power pole Friday night and called a relative to pull his car out of
the ditch. When family members arrived they found Messenger
electrocuted. Pimentel says Messenger apparently urinated into a
roadside ditch but didn’t see the live wire. Pimentel says there will be an autopsy but burn marks indicated the way the electricity traveled through the body.
MONTESANO, Wash. (AP) — An Elma man was killed by accidentally urinating on a downed power line after a one-car crash near Montesano.
Grays Harbor County sheriff’s Deputy Dave Pimentel (PIM’-en-tel) said Monday that 50-year-old Roy Messenger was not seriously hurt after he collided with a power pole Friday night and called a relative to pull his car out of the ditch.
When family members arrived they found Messenger electrocuted. Pimentel says Messenger apparently urinated into a roadside ditch but didn’t see the live wire.
Pimentel says there will be an autopsy but burn marks indicated the way the electricity traveled through the body.